HOUSTON — Mayor Sylvester Turner, Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, Alison Leland and two U.S. Congress members on Saturday unveiled a statue honoring the late Congressman Mickey Leland, a global humanitarian who devoted his life to helping others.
The speakers – including Congressman Leland’s widow, Alison, and U.S. Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green – mentioned the importance of recognizing him during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic that has created food insecurity in the country and also has highlighted the inequalities in the nation’s health care system, especially for the poor and people of color.
[Watch video of dedication ceremony, courtesy the City of Houston Municipal Channel.]
Congressman Leland, born Nov. 27, 1944, in Lubbock, and 15 others died in a plane crash on Aug. 7, 1989, while on a humanitarian mission to Fugnido, Ethiopia. He served six terms in Congress and six years as a Texas state legislator. He focused his political career on issues such as health and hunger.
Saturday’s ceremony was held in front of the statue that was installed Thursday in Hermann Park on the west plaza of Miller Outdoor Theatre. The project was a partnership between Harris County Precinct One, City of Houston and its Parks and Recreation Department, and Houston First.
The project to erect the statue started in December 2018 when Harris County Commissioners Court, at the request of Commissioner Ellis, approved the sculpture’s creation. In April 2019, Commissioners Court approved a contract with artist Edward “Ed” Joseph Dwight Jr. to create the statue.
Dwight is a groundbreaking African American sculptor and artist. He was also a test pilot in the Air Force and engineer. He made history when he was selected by the Kennedy administration to be the first African American astronaut trainee.