Celebrate the vision of a man who changed the world. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
On January 17th, we celebrate the vision of a man who changed the world. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a warrior for the civil rights of African Americans and all disadvantaged communities in this nation – for the right to vote, to eat at any lunch counter, to attend any school. Dr. King spurred a movement, but we continue his fight to this day. And that legacy of demanding change and speaking up for equality, justice, and an end to poverty in American society for people of every color lives on in our work in Harris County.
One of my priorities as County Judge is to ensure that we are investing in wealth building in our African American communities, who have for far too long been left behind. In 2020, a disparity study estimated that only 9% of Harris County contracting dollars were directed to Minority/Women Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs), compared to qualified MWBE availability of 28% in related industries. The summer following the adoption of our countywide MWBE policy in November 2020, 12.7% of all contract spending went to MWBEs, an increase of 3%. Additionally, 17.1% of new contract awards and 67.4% of subcontractor awards went to MWBE firms during this time. By implementing MWBE policies, we are investing in the future of qualified minority businesses that may not otherwise get an opportunity to succeed.
We have also ensured that equity is inserted into everything we do. We are designing our initiatives and programs – from COVID-response to flood control to crime fighting – to prioritize the most vulnerable people and communities. From establishing a Diversity and Inclusion Policy for our Budget Management Department to authorizing Texas’ only African American-owned bank for Harris County financial business, to declaring Juneteenth a county holiday, we’re continuing to fight for the inclusion of our African American residents and all historically marginalized people.
On this MLK Day, I am so proud of all that we have accomplished while I look ahead to all the battles yet to be won. Below, I share some of the programs, initiatives, and achievements we have made that demonstrate our commitment to a truly equitable Harris County. We will never give up the fight for equality and justice for every resident, regardless of race, sex, religion, or income. MLK Jr.’s legacy of demanding change for what is correct, fair, and good lives on in all of our work in Harris County. Not just on MLK Day, but every day of the year.