birthday of Malcolm X, Richie Perez, former Young Lord and co-founder of
the National Congress of Puerto Rican Rights, was honored posthumously at
City Hall. His widow, Martha, son Danny, and mother Ann Perez were present
along with many friends and supporters.
introducing the City Council proclamation honoring Perez, Council Member
Charles Barron called him "a real soldier in the struggle" and spoke of
his ability to gain the trust and respect from members of such groups as
the Latin Kings that other people had difficulty dealing with. "Richie
Perez politicized everybody," Barron stated.
"Perhaps we should have done this while Richie was here," Barron
continued, referring to the awarding of a proclamation, "but he is now
resting with Malcolm X, Don Pedro Albizu Campos, Harriet Tubman and
Martin Luther King. So we say to him, ‘Rest in peace, Richie, and we
honor you today.’"
The City Clerk, Victor Robles, then read the proclamation. It began,
"We pay homage to one of the nation’s greatest advocates, a community
leader and longtime activist in the struggle for global social justice
and human rights."
It went on
to tell of Perez’ unique sense of zeal and operational unity in building
coalitions across racial and ethnic communities in the fight against
police brutality and for Puerto Rican Independence. It stated, too, that
for over 20 years he worked at the Community Service Society, where,
since 1992, he served as Director of Political Development. Over the
last decade, grassroots projects he designing and oversaw registered
more than 250,000 new voters.
The proclamation also noted that in the movement for social justice
and self-determination, Perez was a multi-talented freedom fighter whose
range and vision encompassed the fight against gentrification and for
local communities empowering themselves by building model housing. He
also wrote and lectured extensively on Puerto Rican urban experience,
mass media, US social policy and the history of the labor and civil
The proclamation concluded, "Whereas it is the triumphs and
unwavering efforts of individuals like Richie Perez that have advanced
the human rights and liberation struggle at large; now, therefore, be it
known that the Council of the City of New York most gratefully honors
Richie Perez for his years of outstanding service to the City and the
Perez’s widow, Martha Perez, was then invited to speak. "It is so
fitting that you chose to give Richie this honor on Malcolm’s birthday,"
she said. "Richie loved Malcolm. Malcolm’s words resonated in his life’s
work. Words pledging unity, promoting justice and transcending
compromise were words that he put into everything he did."
Mrs. Perez went on to say that they need the council’s help in
continuing to bring these principles "to families whose lives have been
shattered by police brutality or racism." She concluded by thanking the
council for paying tribute her late husband.