Honoring the First African-American Council Member

Water treatment plant named after Berl Handcox

Berl Handcox (center) with Council Members Jimmy Flannigan (left) and Ora Houston (right)
Berl Handcox (center) with Council Members Jimmy Flannigan (left) and Ora Houston (right)

Last week, City Council honored Berl L. Handcox Sr., who served as a council member from 1971-75, with the distinction of being the first elected African-American council member "under the Manager-Council form of government." That description is a nod to two earlier black members: Henry Green Madison, appointed in 1871, and William G. Wilson, elected in 1883. Handcox is remembered for his devotion to improving infrastructure, on the Eastside and throughout the city; accordingly, Council voted unanimously to initiate renaming Water Treatment Plant No. 4 (in District 6, where Handcox lives) in his honor. The resolution reads, in part, "Handcox spent considerable time passionately advocating for water and wastewater facilities to be both cleaner and more equitably distributed throughout the city." Council Member Ora Houston, who co-sponsored the resolution with CM Jimmy Flan­nigan, introduced Handcox as a longtime friend and predecessor, telling him: "I stand on your shoulders, and appreciate all you have done for this community."

"Let it suffice to say," responded Handcox, "thank you, thank you, thank you."

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Berl Handcox, Jimmy Flannigan, Ora Houston

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