Although Quentin Mease was passionate about civil rights, he couldn’t be directly involved in the movement because he was director of the old South Central YMCA next to Texas Southern University. In an interview with Houston Public Radio in 2005, Mease said he got involved indirectly, when he allowed TSU activists to use his Y as a staging area for the sit-ins and demonstrations that launched the push for civil rights in 1960.
“I didn’t rationalize it, but I said ‘yes you can meet here, but we don’t want any demonstrations here. We don’t want any of that. If you want to meet, and whatever it is, all right, because we’re open to everybody in the community.”
Through the 1960s and 70s the Y at TSU was the unofficial headquarters of civil rights in Houston. Everybody who was anybody in the movement spoke there at one time or another. Mease said it was an exhilarating time and he was proud to be part of it.
“It wasn’t something that I signed on for when I came, but, I mean, it was something I felt that someway I was able to contribute something.”
In 1966, Mease was instrumental in creation of the Harris County Hospital District and chaired the Hospital District board for 19 years. One of the county’s hospitals is named for him. Mease died of pneumonia early Tuesday.
Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.