Mickey Leland was born November 27, 1944 in Lubbock, Texas. At an early age, he moved with his family to the Fifth Ward in Houston, Texas. As a student, Mickey showed early promise. Mickey graduated in the top 10% of his class in 1964 from Phyllis Wheatley High School in Houston. Mickey attended Texas Southern University in the late 60s, was a vocal leader of the local civil rights movement, and brought national civil rights leaders to Houston. He graduated from TSU's School of Pharmacy in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy and served as an Instructor of Clinical Pharmacy at his alma mater from 1970-71.
In 1972, Mickey was elected to the Texas Legislature from Houston. He served in the Texas House of Representatives until 1978 and became famous as the champion of health care rights for the poor. His work included membership on the Labor, State Affairs, and Human Resources Committees, the Texas Legislative Council, and the Subcommittee on Occupational and Industrial Safety.
In 1978, Mickey Leland was elected to the United States Congress from the 18th Congressional District in Houston. Mickey's ability to reach out to others with innovative ideas and to gain support from unlikely sources was 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.
By 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 him, members of his congressional staff, State Department officials, and Ethiopian nationals crashed en route to a United Nations refugee camp in Ethiopia in a mountainous region. There were no survivors.