WACO, Texas — Waco City Council will honor a pioneer in the community, renaming Washington Avenue after the late McLennan County Commissioner Lester Gibson.
Pat Chisolm-Miller is a McLennan County commissioner who served under Lester Gibson as an administrative assistant for two decades before filling the position herself.
She says the road was not always easy for Gibson; being the first Black elected commissioner in McLennan County after Reconstruction.
“...Coming into office after the civil rights movement, he’s coming in after African Americans fought for a right to be at the table and have a voice," said Chisolm-Miller.
Over Gibson’s tenure, more African Americans and Hispanics obtained jobs in the county. Gibson also founded the Texas Organization of Black County Commissioners.
“He always knew that if things are going to be equal for everyone, if things were going to work out for people that he was fighting for,...he couldn’t stop," said Pat Chisolm-Miller.
One of Gibson’s biggest fights was getting a resolution put under the ‘hanging tree noose’ picture at the Waco Courthouse. For the hanging of Jessie Washington, it would take him from 02-11 to get the resolution passed.
“Termites had kind of destroyed those murals, so they were going to have to repair it, so Commissioner Gibson said 'well certainly we’re not going to repair this mural, we’re retiring it'...the court said no, to be historically correct we need to repair and put this one back also,” said Chisolm-Miller.
The trail that Jessie Washington was dragged to be hung on a tree will be known as Lester Gibson Way- an example of fighting for what you believe in no matter the opposition.
“It took nine years for that process, almost one-third of his county government advocacy was on that one issue...I tell young people all the time you may not get your answer tomorrow. It's okay if it takes a little work; if it takes a little time. Because right always wins out,” she said.