U. S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and U. S. Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN-9) honored the legacy of Judge Odell Horton at a ceremony this morning renaming the Clifford Davis Federal Building as the Clifford Davis and Odell Horton Federal Building.
“Judge Odell Horton left a remarkable legacy as the first African-American U.S. District Court Judge appointed in Tennessee since Reconstruction,” said Alexander. “Adding his name to the Federal Building is symbolic of the transition that took place in Memphis and across the South during Judge Horton's lifetime and my lifetime. I'm proud that this was Congressman Cohen’s first legislation to be signed into law, and I hope the addition of Judge Horton’s name will be a reminder that our country has been and continues to be a work in progress, committed to equal opportunity for all.”
“It is appropriate that Judge Odell Horton be honored and remembered in this way for his contributions to his city, his state and his country,” Cohen stated. “Judge Horton was the kind of role model that our community can look to with pride and respect. His life of public service will long be remembered. It has been an honor and a pleasure working with Judge Horton's family to make this a reality and I know that they are most appreciative, as am I, of Senator Alexander's willingness to bring this legislation to fruition in the Senate.”
Cohen sponsored H.R. 753, a bill to rename the Memphis Federal Building which was cosponsored by the entire Tennessee delegation in the House of Representatives. H.R. 753 passed the House on March 26, 2007. The Senate companion bill was sponsored by Alexander and cosponsored by Senator Bob Corker. H.R. 753 cleared the Senate by unanimous consent with the support of both Tennessee senators and was signed into law by President Bush on May 2, 2007.
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Judge Horton as the first African-American Federal judge in Tennessee since Reconstruction. Judge Horton was an Assistant U.S. Attorney, the first African-American member of the Mayor Henry Loeb’s city administration as the head of health and hospitals, and served as president of LeMoyne-Owen College. Judge Horton died in 2006 at the age of 76.
In addition to Senator Alexander and Congressman Cohen, the ceremony included members of the Horton family, Mayor W. W. Herenton, Mayor A. C. Wharton, Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks and TVA Board Member and presiding prelate of the First Episcopal District, Bishop William Graves.