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25 Years Later...
Remembering Congressman Mickey Leland


August 1, 2014

Congressman George Thomas "Mickey" Leland
Twenty-five years ago, Houston and the world lost a powerful voice for the poor and the disenfranchised.

George Thomas “Mickey” Leland was one of the nation’s leading anti-poverty activists focusing on issues of health and hunger in the U.S. and throughout the world. During his six terms in the U.S. Congress, serving as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the Texas 18th district six years and as a Democratic National Committee official, Leland established the Congressional Select Committee on Hunger and initiated a number of programs designed to assuage the famine crises that plagued Ethiopia and Sudan through much of the 1980s.

Leland was born in Lubbock, Texas on November 27, 1944. His family later relocated to Houston’s Fifth Ward where Leland attended Phillis Wheatley High School and excelled in sports. Leland graduated from Texas Southern University’s School of Pharmacy in 1970.

By 1970 Leland had become a political activist, and two years later he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives. Leland served in the legislature until November 1978 when he was elected to fill the Houston area seat of Congresswoman Barbara Jordan who chose not to seek reelection. Later, he served twice as an At-Large Majority Whip and on two Congressional Committees, Interstate and Foreign Commerce (1978) and Energy and Commerce (1984). In 1985-1986 Congressman Leland was Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

U.S. Rep. Mickey Leland died in a plane crash in Ethiopia on a mission to help starving Sudanese refugees. On August 7, 1989, while aiding famine victims in Africa he died as he lived, on a mission seeking to help those most in need.

In the late 1980s, Houston City Council voted to name the international terminal, Terminal D at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), after the congressman.

The Houston Airport System asks that the public reflect on the service and the life of Representative Mickey Leland throughout the month of August.
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