Governor Rodney Ellis and the
First Family, Pictured left-to-right are daughters Maria and Nicole,
wife Licia Green-Ellis, Governor Ellis holding son Leland, and his mother,
Oliver Theresa Ellis and father, Eligha Ellis.
AUSTIN - Senator Rodney Ellis was sworn in today, April 8, 2000, as Governor of Texas. A Texas tradition, Ellis' Governor for a Day celebration began at 11:00 A.M. on the south steps of the State Capitol. Former Governor Ann Richards introduced Governor Ellis and Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk served as Master of Ceremonies. The festivities included a barbecue and entertainment on the Capitol grounds.
In accordance with the Texas Constitution, Senate members elect one of their own as President Pro Tempore at the beginning and close of each legislative session. Senator Ellis was elected at the end of the 76th Regular Session, on May 31, 1999. As such he acts as governor when both the governor and lieutenant governor of Texas are out of the state. On these occasions, he holds all powers of the office.
Governor Rodney Ellis with
his wife, Licia Green-Ellis joining family and friends at the Governor's
Mansion prior to breakfast.
Senator Ellis has served as governor 31 days during this legislative interim, more than any other President Pro Tempore in recent history.
Today's ceremony honored Governor Rodney Ellis, First Lady Licia Green-Ellis, their children Nicole, Maria and Leland, family and friends and the residents of his Senate District. All residents of District 13, comprising part of Harris and Fort Bend counties and the general public, were invited to the festivities.
A state senator for ten years, Ellis has been a leader on education, civil rights and hate crimes, economic development, tax cuts, workforce development issues and judicial reform. Previously, Ellis was a city councilman in Houston. He succeeded Craig Washington as senator from District 13 when Washington replaced the late Mickey Leland in Congress. Senators from this district have had a long history of service to the State of Texas. Previously, former Senators Washington and Barbara Jordan had both served as Governor for a Day.
Governor Rodney Ellis stands holding his son Leland, with the First
Lady and daughter, Nicole at his side upon completion of the Oath
of Office. INSET: Judge James DeAuda (far right) administering the
Oath of Office to Ellis.
The first family started the day with breakfast at the Governor's Mansion, before driving to the State Capitol to participate in the festivities. Around 1,500 residents of Senate District 13 came to celebrate and give their support to the Governor. Before the ceremony, they were entertained by the University of Texas Longhorn Band and the Texas Southern University Band. Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, called the Honor Guard, made up of the Ross Volunteers from Texas A&M University. Governor Ellis and his family were escorted to the platform by an escort committee made up of many of his Senate colleagues.
Former Judge Andrew Jefferson delivered the invocation. This was followed by the posting of the colors by the Prairie View A&M University Joint Color Guard. Nicole Ellis and Maria Hill Ellis led the Pledge of Allegiance. Jarrett Leland, son of the late Congressman Mickey Leland, led the salute to the Texas flag. Mayor Kirk then introduced Governor Ellis' parents, Eligha and Oliver Theresa Ellis, members of his immediate family, elected officials and other dignitaries.
Craig Washington then recognized Ellis as a politician "with the courage to stand alone, to stand up for something that is a matter of principle to him and to the people he represents."
Washington was followed by Jack Rains, former Texas Secretary of State, an old friend and collaborator of Governor Ellis. Grammy nominee Hanq Neal followed with the song "Hope", which he composed to celebrate the life of Mickey Leland. The late congressman, killed during a hunger relief mission in Africa, was both employer and mentor to Governor Ellis.
Ceremonial participants L
to R - Judge James DeAuda, Former Texas Secretary of State Jack Rains,
Former Congressman Craig Washington, former Judge Andrew Jefferson,
and Former Texas Governor Ann Richards.
Judge James DeAnda, the second Hispanic ever appointed to the federal bench in the country, administered the Oath of Office to Governor Ellis. This was followed by the traditional 19-gun salute by the Texas National Guard.
Former Governor of Texas Ann Richards introduced Governor Ellis with her usual wit and charm. Richards praised Ellis at a personal and professional level, saying "...he is one of the best daddies I know" and calling him a champion of the rights of women, minorities and working people. Addressing Ellis' losing struggle in the last legislative session for the approval of the James Byrd Hate Crimes Act, the former Texas governor told the crowd that "...at least today, hate crimes will be against the law in Texas." Richards honored the late Barbara Jordan and remembered the civil rights struggle in which she and many of the people present at today's event participated. The public responded with laughter, tears and a standing ovation.
Grammy nominee Hanq Neal performing
the song 'Hope' he composed in memory of the late Congressman Mickey
After thanking the former governor, Ellis thanked his colleagues, officials, his district's residents, friends and family. The Governor specifically praised and thanked his parents, who raised him while holding two jobs and taught him to be independent. Looking to the future, Ellis said Texas has to make a big effort to prepare the young for new challenges. He pointed out that only 20 percent of Texans receive college degrees and that only a small minority of high school students take college preparatory courses. He called for more participation of women, African-Americans and Hispanics in a trained workforce and to improve and expand the workforce as a whole.
After receiving guests in the Governor's Reception Room, the First Family went out on the grounds of the Capitol to enjoy barbeque and entertainment with the people.
View of the crowd from the
balcony of the Governor's Office in the Texas State Capitol. An estimated
1500 persons attended including numerous performers from Senate District
13. Ellis has representated the District since 1990.