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New monument in Houston’s Third Ward honors longtime Church leader Rev. Edward Coates – Houston Public Media

An honorary street sign for Reverend Edward Coates in the Third Ward

Patricia Ortiz/Houston Public Media

There is now an honorary street sign for Rev. Edward Coates in the Third Ward.

A new marker sits at the corner of Webster and Emancipation in Houston’s Third Ward, just above the intersection’s street signs, to honor the Rev. Edward Coates.

Coates served as pastor of Wesley AME Church for nearly 40 years. He died in 2018 at the age of 96, but six years later, community members still remember him as an advocate for the Third Ward, a predominantly black neighborhood south of downtown.

“He was a tireless advocate for social justice and dedicated to service, characteristics that helped transform our community into what I proudly call the Destination District,” said Houston City Council Member Carolyn Evans-Shabazz, during an unveiling ceremony Monday morning.

According to the city, honorary street markers are used to recognize individuals who have contributed significantly to the Houston community.

Juanita Williams, who turns 102 next month, is a member of the church. She described the late Rev.

“(Rev. Coates) knew all he had to do was call us valuable. And we would do whatever he wanted us to do,” Williams said.

Coates often worked with elected officials and community members to support the Third Ward, she added.

“When Rev. Coates built the Wesley Square Apartments, he wanted to make sure that people in the Third Ward would have a nice place to live and that they could afford it,” Williams said.

Coates also provided his community with free computer training, health fairs, and substance abuse counseling.

The Wesley AME Church was once in danger of being demolished. According to a public notice from the city, the NHP Foundation, a development company, will now be responsible for renovating and redeveloping the property.

Evans-Shabazz said the church will be renamed Gospel Square and transformed into a mixed-use development with affordable housing, a gospel museum, a cafe and a recording studio.

“The community, of course, has always known Wesley Chapel AME,” Shabazz said. “…You can honor your history, but move forward and do better.