Ernest McGowen, 1925-2012

Ernest McGowen, Sr., the second African-American elected to the Houston City Council and the father of the city’s Affirmative Action program, died at the age of 87 on Sunday.

McGowen was the first Councilmember for the northern District B, being first elected in 1980 after a successful lawsuit brought single member districts to Houston (something our Austinite friends are still fighting for) and stayed until term limits forced him out in 1994. He was a major advocate during the Whitmire Administration for increased affirmative action programs. Among his accomplishments were being the sponsor of the MWBE program (minority and woman-owned business enterprise), writing the ordinance prohibiting support of apartheid South Africa, supporting striking Sanitation Workers, and helping to establish MLK day as a city holiday.

Former City Councilmember Anthony Hall, State Senator Rodney Ellis, and U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, who all served with McGowen on the Council, commended McGowen’s record and lauded his memory.

RIP Councilmember. I was always remember him as a pioneer, a hero, and a fighter always for what is right.

The Houston Chronicle has the full story.