Street name change to honor Wichita Falls pioneer

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 6:09 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - What is now known as Cleveland Avenue in Wichita Falls will soon come to commemorate the service Leroy Cleaver gave to the nation and community. Cleveland Avenue is set to be renamed Cleaver Street.

“We need to mark that, someone who has that many accolades,” said James Hicks, pastor of Covenant Faith Center.

Cleaver was a pastor at Jackson Memorial Church of God in Christ for 35 years on Cleveland Avenue. He was a Tuskegee airman during World War II, the first Black Civilian Pilot Instructor at Sheppard Air Force Base, and a prominent figure in Wichita Falls.

“He was one of those people that you meet once in a lifetime. Even when he got the Congressional Gold Medal, he said ‘I’m not excited about it because it was so long ago that I just did my job, wasn’t nothing special. I just did my job,’” said Pastor Hicks.

Hicks found a way to keep Cleaver’s legacy alive. He went door-to-door collecting more than 400 signatures to petition for the name change, according to City of Wichita Falls planning manager, Fabian Medellin. District 2 Councilman Larry Nelson said raising awareness about Cleaver is worth noting.

“That way we will be aware of who we are and where we come. One of the things I want to leave you with is one of the reasons Martin died for us is our vote, our voting rights and Cleaver was really strict on that, all of his ancestors and all of that,” said Nelson.

There was something about Cleaver that Hicks couldn’t let go.

“When you meet somebody like that you want to mark that occasion. Put a rock of remembrance right there and say that person is special and needs recognition,” added Hicks.

“It’s an opportunity for us to join with the community and in memory of Pastor Cleaver so that way we can carry his legacy from now on essentially and help unite that community and us around that memory,” explained Medellin.

The process to rename roads takes about 30 days after a petition is filed.