“I am now an activist on behalf of humanity everywhere…. That is my community…”
George Thomas “Mickey” Leland became famous as the champion of healthcare rights. He built his political reputation around health issues for poor people soon after he won a seat in the Texas State Legislature in 1972. Before that, as a pharmacy student at Texas Southern University (TSU), where he later taught clinical pharmacy, he toured low-income neighborhoods with nursing and medical students to inform families about available medical services in local clinics – information they would otherwise not have had.
In 1978 Mr. Leland was elected to the United States House of Representatives from the 18th Congressional District of Houston, Texas. He was re-elected to each succeeding Congress until his death in 1989. The work for which he is best remembered began when he chaired the House Select Committee on Hunger, creating the National Commission on Infant Mortality, which led to better access to fresh food for at-risk women, children and infants, and the first comprehensive services for the homeless.