October 1, 2023

Know Your History: Mickey Leland

By: Chelsea Davis-Bibb, Ed.D.

Mickey Leland was a person who believed in helping others.

He once stated, “I am as much of a citizen of this world as I am of this country. To hell with those people who are critical of what I am able to do to help save people’s lives. I don’t mean to sound hokey, but I grew up on the Christian ethic which says we are supposed to help the least of our brothers.”

Leland was born on November 27, 1944, in Lubbock, Texas. He moved to Houston with his mom and brother after his parents separated. In 1963, Leland graduated from Phyllis Wheatley High School, and earned a degree in pharmacy from Texas Southern University in 1970.

He was an instructor of clinical pharmacy at Texas Southern University, and later took a job as a pharmacist. In the late 1960s, he was an activist in the civil rights movement. He participated in many protests and was arrested while protesting police brutality. This was a critical moment in his life, as it convinced him to work in the political system.

In 1972, he was first elected to the Texas State House of Representatives and served his Houston neighborhood from 1973 to 1979. During his time in the state legislature, he took his first trip to African, and grew very fond of the continent. His planed three-week trip, turned into a three-month trip. This trip sparked a love for wanting to help end famine in East Africa and in the world.

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