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"Mickey" Leland was born on this date in 1944. He was a Black politician and activist.
Born in Lubbock, Texas, George Thomas "Mickey" Leland grew up in Houston. In 1970, he received a B.S. in pharmacy from Texas Southern University and was an instructor of clinical pharmacy at the same school. He also got involved in the American Civil Rights movement as a student.
Leland first ran for public office in 1972 when he won the election as a representative to the Texas state legislature. From 1976 to 1985, he became involved with party politics as a member of the Democratic National Committee. He served as a delegate to the Texas Constitutional Convention in 1974. After winning a plurality in the Democratic primary of 1978, Leland won the runoff and, in November, succeeded Barbara Jordan as the representative from the 18th District of Texas.
Throughout his terms in Congress, Leland served on the Interstate and Foreign Commerce (later Energy and Commerce) Committee, the Post Office and Civil Service Committee, and he was chairman of the Subcommittee on Postal Operations and Services. Leland served on the Committee on the District of Columbia in the 96th through 99th Congresses.
Leland was instrumental in establishing the Select Committee on Hunger in 1984 and served as chairman through the remainder of his term. In addition to his regular cabinet responsibilities, Leland was chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus for the 99th Congress. He also successfully urged the passage of stronger sanctions against the South African government for its apartheid policy. In the summer of 1989, Leland, as he often had, traveled to Ethiopia to visit a United Nations refugee camp.
Sadly, on August 7, 1989, a plane carrying Leland, congressional staff members, State Department officials, and Ethiopian escorts crashed in a mountainous region near Gambela, Ethiopia, killing all on board. In his six terms as a representative from Texas, Mickey Leland emerged as a national spokesman for the problems of hunger in the United States and throughout the world.