I was saddened by the untimely death of my friend and confidante, Lloyd Criss Jr. Lloyd was an inspiration to me during the time that I served as a union officer for five different international unions.
I met Lloyd when I became a member of Labor Local No. 116, in the late ‘60s. At that time, African Americans could only maintain membership in the Laborers Local.
However, those of us who were believers in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 knew that we needed to fight for the rights that we were being denied because the Civil Rights Act had made it legal for any and all men to work out of any craft that their intelligence, physicality and instincts would allow.
It was during the struggle to open up the crafts to minorities that I met Lloyd.
Lloyd was a pipefitter at the time. He was a person who was keenly aware that times were changing. He began to work with the late Johnny Henderson, who was a civil rights activist for whom the Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Court building is named.
Those two men fought diligently to make change happen. They made strong stances in the Galveston County AFL-CIO and supported the young laborers in the struggle because we all knew that the weight of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Will of God were with us.
With the leadership of these two great men, the crafts were integrated.
As a result of the actions of Criss, Henderson and other men and women who possessed and valued virtues of hard work, honesty, good will and the love of God, Galveston County was integrated. Minority men and women began to run for public office, school districts integrated and College of the Mainland was built out of the need for a changing time.
I believe both Lloyd and Johnny were unifiers. They understood and lived by the words of Jesus Christ. They understood the meaning of the words, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” They knew that spiritual strength is unity.
We now live in a very polarized world. We haven’t been this divided since 1861, and we know how that ended. We’re under pressure to do something now. Our children and grandchildren’s future are at stake. What kind of world do we want to leave them?
Thankfully, those of us who live in the Settlement Community have forged a lasting relationship. The Texas City and La Marque police departments, and the West-end Ministers and Leadership Alliance have unified the twin cities.
Further, the consolidation of the school districts exemplifies what can be accomplished when men and women are willing to work toward a common goal. We can literally point to our new schools, the renovations and additions of the College of the Mainland and can say with assurance that police chiefs Joe Stanton and Kirk Jackson continue to coordinate efforts to make sure that criminals understand that crime in this community will not pay.