By Senator Borris Miles
I am proud to announce the passage of legislation to name two of our roadways after two great Black leaders who were taken from us too soon, Congresswoman Barbara Jordan and Commissioner El Franco Lee. Together, these two leaders made numerous contributions to our community, city, state and nation.
Congresswoman Barbara Jordan was a native Houstonian, a national champion debater at Texas Southern University, the first African-American elected to the Texas Senate since Reconstruction and to US Congress to represent Texas. As a member of the Texas Senate, she fought for poor and minority communities, worker’s compensation and election reform.
As a member of the US Judiciary Committee in Congress, she was thrust into the national spotlight when she delivered her opening statement on the Articles of Impeachment against then-President Richard Nixon.
In 1976, Congresswoman Jordan was the first woman and African-American to deliver the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. To this day, her keynote speech is still ranked as one of the top speeches ever delivered.
State Highway 288 from Beltway 8 to Cleburne Street will be named the Barbara Jordan Memorial Parkway in her honor.
Like Congresswoman Jordan, Commissioner El Franco Lee was born in Houston, grew up in Fifth Ward, and attended both Wheatley High School and TSU. Before being elected to the Harris County Commissioner’s Court, Lee served three terms for District 142 from 1979-1985 in the Texas House. Texas Monthly Magazine named Lee the Most Underrated Legislator in 1981, due to his soft nature in laying out bills, working effortlessly across the aisle and quietly adding amendments to his bills on the House Floor.
As Harris County Commissioner, Lee was instrumental in revitalizing and repurposing parks, hosting numerous programs to serve inner-city residents and created the Street Olympics – a summer program for youth across the county to compete in popular games and activities. Also, he was instrumental in deploying satellite health care clinics at county-run facilities in the Fifth Ward, Third Ward, Kashmere Gardens and other minority communities. To remember Commissioner Lee’s contributions, I sponsored HB 635 to name US Highway 59 between 610 Loop and I-10 as the Commissioner El Franco Lee Memorial Highway.
Congresswoman Barbara Jordan and Commissioner El Franco Lee were incredible leaders, legislators and activists. They never forgot where they came from and why they served.
I am proud to sponsor HB 519 and HB 635 to name these two roadways in their honor. There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony for these two roadways at a later date. I hope you can join me to honor our Black leaders.
Keep the Faith,
Keep the Fight!
This article originally appeared in the African American News & Issues.