Congressman Charles B. Rangel Receives The Basil And Portia Paterson Public Service Award In Harlem

October 11, 2023

The Harlem Cultural Archives (HCA) historical society hosted an award ceremony for Congressman Charles B. Rangel at Londel’s Supper Club in Harlem on September 30th, 2023.

Congressman Rangel was presented the 2nd annual “Basil and Portia Paterson Public Service Award” by last year’s recipient, NY State Assemblymember Inez E. Dickens.

Included in the 100+ attendees were Dr. Vincent Boudreau, President of the City College of New York, NY City Councilmember Gale E. Brewer, Hon. W. Franc Perry, III, Justice of the NY State Supreme Court, Dr. Hazel Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference, Daniel Paterson, son of Basil and Portia Paterson, Donald Notice, Executive Director at West Harlem Group Assistance Inc., Kenneth J. Knuckles, – former President and Chief Executive of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ), and NY State Senator Robert Jackson.

MC of the event was Glenn A. Hunter, Co-Founder/Co-Executive Director of HCA.

Charles B. Rangel

Charles B. Rangel, was a war hero, history-making congressman, and master lawmaker. A founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, he made history as the first African-American member of Congress to lead the powerful Ways and Means Committee. He served for 23 terms in the House of Representatives and was cited as the most effective lawmaker in the House, leading all of his colleagues in passing legislation. He was a prime contributor to President Obama’s historic healthcare reform law.

Growing up on the other side of the tracks on Lenox Avenue in Harlem, he was transformed from a high school dropout to a war hero after volunteering for service in the Army during the Korean War. Wounded in an attack by waves of Communist Chinese troops, he was awarded a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for Valor after leading his surviving comrades from behind enemy lines.

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With the aid of the G.I. Bill, he earned degrees from New York University and St. John’s University Law School. He began his public service as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and was later elected to the New York State Assembly. He went to Washington in 1971 to serve in the House after defeating the legendary Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Congressman Rangel is currently Statesman in Residence at The City College of New York for the City University of New York. Demonstrating his commitment to education, he created financial mechanisms to construct and rehabilitate public schools across the country. In Congress, following Saint Matthew’s teaching, he has been a stalwart champion for the “least among us,” advocating powerfully and persistently to improve the lives of working people. He is a defender of veterans and treated education as a national security issue.

A leading advocate for equal rights and equal opportunity, Congressman Rangel boosted the incomes of millions of working families with the Earned Income Tax Credit and pumped billions of dollars into the revitalization of communities across the nation, including Harlem. His unparalleled foreign policy record focused on Africa and the Caribbean.

In 1986 Congressman Rangel sounded the death knell for apartheid in South Africa with the “Rangel Amendment,” which forced the largest U.S. investors to abandon the country. He created trading and investment opportunities for struggling nations in the Caribbean and Africa. In 2010, he successfully promoted vital investment incentives for earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

Among his proudest achievements is founding the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program in the State Department, in cooperation with Howard University. As of 2015, most of the 200 Rangel Fellows who completed the program were serving as U.S. State Department Foreign Service Officers in U.S. Embassies around the world. Congressman Rangel retired from the United States Congress in 2016. Mr. Rangel still resides with his wife, Alma, in Harlem where he was born. They have two adult children and three grandchildren.

Photo credit: 1-4) Rudy Collins.

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