New community center to honor late political icon

Harris County Commissioner Gene L. Locke, along with other community leaders, conducted a groundbreaking Dec. 8 for the 12,460-square-foot Barbara Jordan Community Center in a northeast Houston park that also bears the late congresswoman’s name.

“When I think about perseverance, I think about my friend Commissioner El Franco Lee, who persevered a number of years to make this day a reality,” Locke said. “Ultimately, he made a commitment to this community. And I’m proud to stand at this podium in his memory and say, it will be done.”

Jordan’s sister, Rosemary McGowan, said the center will be a place where the community can come together for various services.

“We have a new facility to look forward to in this great community,” McGowan said. “And thanks again for the name she carries of my sister because she was that eloquent champion of ethics and justice.”

Construction will start early next year on the single-story structure that will include a museum with Jordan’s memorabilia. The facility also will house spaces for arts-and-crafts, special events and exercising – all of which will benefit community residents. The building will be constructed near the existing Community Center, which will be demolished after the facility is completed in late 2017.

“The northeast Houston community is very much pleased and happy that Commissioner Lee thought enough of us to give us a facility that we not only desire but we deserve,” said Charlotta D. Mock with the Riverwood Estates Civic Club. “But we are very thankful to Commissioner Locke for making sure that that vision came to fruition. We know that it will be used well and make an impact to change lives for the better.”

Also at the event were: Willie J. Hunter, civic association president; Elvin Franklin Jr., chair of the Harris Health System Board of Managers and community resident; Jeffrey P. Gerber, chief executive officer of PGAL; and Willie Jordan Jr., an architect with KCI.

Barbara Jordan, a Houston native who died in 1996, was the first African-American woman elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction and the first Southern African-American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.