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By Donna Lamb

 
 

Long-time activist,
Richie Perez,
honored at City Hall

n the 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.

In 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."

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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 rights movements.

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 community."

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.

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