Mickey Leland


George Thomas “Mickey” Leland was born November 27, 1944, in Lubbock Texas, to Alice and George Thomas Leland, II. Growing up in a predominately African-American and Hispanic neighborhood, Mickey’s first experience with the “public” was in a segregated public school.

At an early age, he, along with his mother and brother (William Gaston Leland), took up residence in the Fifth Ward of Houston, Texas. As a student Mickey showed promise early. He ranked in the top 10% of his class when he graduated in 1964 from Phyllis Wheatley High School in Houston, Texas. While attending Texas Southern University (TSU) in the late 60’s Leland was a vocal leader of the local civil rights movement and brought national leaders of the movement to Houston. He graduated from TSU’s School of Pharmacy in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy. He served as an Instructor of Clinical Pharmacy at his alma mater from 1970-71.

In 1972, Mickey Leland was elected to the State Legislature from the 88th District of Houston. He served in the Texas House of Representatives until 1978. As a State Representative at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Mickey became famous as the champion of health care rights for the poor. State Representative Leland was elected Vice Chairman of the Joint Committee on Prison Reform. His work included membership on the Labor, State Affairs, Human Resources committees, the Legislative Council and the Subcommittee on Occupational and Industrial Safety.

In 1978, Mickey was elected to the United States Congress from the 18th Congressional District in Houston, Texas. Mickey’s ability to reach out to others with innovative ideas and to gain support from unlikely sources was a key to his success in effectively addressing the problems of the poor and minorities. He met with Pope John Paul II about food aid to Africa and with Fidel Castro about reuniting Cuban families. Mickey began his Congressional career as Freshman Majority Whip for the 96th Congress in 1979-80 and served as Majority Whip At-Large during the 97th Congress. Mickey was appointed At-Large Whip by the House leadership for the 100th Congress. While in the United States Congress Leland chaired the House Select Committee on Hunger and the Subcommittee on Postal Operations and Services. Leland was a member of the committee on Energy and Commerce, Health and Environment, Energy and Power, and Post Office and Civil Service. He also served as a member of Subcommittees on Telecommunications and Finance, Postal Operations and Services, Compensation and Employment.

Mickey was a member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) from 1976-1985. In 1984, Mickey led an eight-member House delegation to Ethiopia on a tour of famine-stricken areas. Between 1985-86, Mickey served as Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus for the 99th Congress. He served as Chairman of the DNC’s Black Caucus in 1985, and in that capacity, served on the DNC’s Executive Committee.

In 1983 Mickey married Alison Clark Walton. Mickey fathered three children Jarrett David and twins Austin “Mickey” and Cameron George.

In 1988 Mickey was becoming increasingly active in international human rights and world hunger issues. He worked endlessly to solve the problems of domestic and international hunger and malnutrition. On August 7, 1989, Leland was leading another humanitarian mission when a plane carrying Mickey, members of his Congressional staff, State Department officials, and Ethiopian nationals to a United Nations refugee camp in Ethiopia crashed in a mountainous region. There were no survivors.