Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee applauds the groundbreaking at the MLK, Jr. Plaza for the addition of iconic leaders Nelson Mandela, ROSA PARKS, and Barbara Jordan

“April 4th is the 49th Commemoration of the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – a man who lived his entire life for peace and justice. And now we add more of those who fought for justice”

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary and Homeland Security, Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, and the new Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation released the following statement:

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has been an instrumental part of building the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza and statue beginning with the securing of funding through Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood who saw the vast amount of support throughout the Houston community which caused him to push for submission of funding in President Obama’s 2010 federal budget for almost a billion dollars for Houston Metro. This was the first time in Houston’s history to be placed into the President’s budget for transportation dollars for light rail.  “We witnessed the implementation and construction on the northeast and southeast lines which included construction along Martin Luther King Street that impacted a tree planted by Daddy Martin King in 1983 to honor his son Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to advocate for the naming of MLK Street. The tree became the nexus between Houston Metro and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza,” stated Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

“The voice and leadership behind the historical planting of the tree was the Black Heritage Society and one of the leading Civil Right advocates in Houston, Ovide Duncantel.  Most people did not know the history behind the tree, but it was Ovide Duncantel that brought Daddy King to Houston to ensure Houston was a part of the national story and a part of history.  It was around this time that it was determined the tree would have to be moved in order to build the light rail on the prescribed path.  After discussions with the city and Metro, it was finally agreed to move the tree to a new site in McGregor Park where the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza and statue were eventually built.  The tree was successfully moved and saved even after experiencing a severe drought, and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza and statue were constructed with donations from all walks of life, including seventy-five thousand dollars secured from a major corporation.”

“Now we will add three more iconic figures who believed in Justice.  The ‘Icon Benches and Wall of Honor’saluting civil and human rights icons President Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, and Barbara Jordan will further showcase their revolutionary lives and works.”

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee will forever be associated with this remarkable project and memorial honoring some of our world’s greatest leaders.  “We look forward to bringing Nelson Mandela’s son Ndaba Mandela to Houston to celebrate the unveiling of these pioneers.”

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