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Houston City Council Censures Colleague Over Racial Slur

November 4, 1989 GMT

HOUSTON (AP) _ The City Council unanimously approved a resolution Friday censuring a councilman for a racist remark about the renaming of an airport for the late U.S. Rep. Mickey Leland.

The longtime Houston Democrat died in an Aug. 7 plane crash while aiding famine victims in Africa.

″Jim Westmoreland, a member of this body, has seriously damaged the well- earned dignity of the Houston City Council by making racially inflammatory statements which incorrectly imply that vestiges of bigotry exist within this diverse body,″ the resolution said.


Westmoreland voted for the resolution, which passed 14-0.

The special afternoon session called by Mayor Kathy Whitmire came two weeks after Westmoreland suggested to a reporter that Houston Intercontinent al Airport be renamed ″Nigger International″ to satisfy council members wanting to rename the airport for Leland, who was black.

The resolution said the council ″finds the remarks of Jim Westmoreland to be morally without character and do not in any way represent the true feelings of any member of this council toward any individuals or groups of individuals regardless of their race.″

″I think it makes a statement to the public that the statements that I made do not reflect at all the feelings or the drive and direction of the city council,″ Westmoreland said of the resolution he moved to adopt.

Westmoreland, a 16-year councilman, is seeking re-election to his at-large seat Tuesday. He has apologized for his remarks, but claims he actually said ″Negro International″ in joking about the airport’s renaming.

The councilman also suggested to the reporter that the white crosses erected at the site of fatal traffic accidents caused by drunken drivers be painted black to please the black citizens and those against drunken driving.

During the council’s regular weekly session Wednesday, hundreds packed the council chambers to demand Westmoreland’s resignation. Westmoreland, however, has said he will not step down, but will wait for the results of the election.