Congressman Crowley Hosted 7th Congressional District’s 9th Annual Black History Month Celebration

February 13, 2008
Press Release

John Lewis, Civil Rights Leader and Congressman, Joins as Keynote Speaker

Co-op City, NYCongressman Joseph Crowley (NY-07) commemorated Black History Month at the 7th Congressional District’s 9th Annual Black History Month Celebration.  The event was held at the Dreiser Auditorium in Co-Op City and more than 500 people were in attendance. Congressman John Lewis (GA-05) was the evening’s special guest and keynote speaker.

“Congressman John Lewis has devoted his life to ending discrimination and paving the way for a better America, and he is a true American hero,” said Congressman Crowley. “I am proud to call him a friend and colleague, and it was great to have him here in Co-op City to celebrate the importance of Black History Month.” 

During the 1960’s struggle for civil rights and social justice in America, Congressman John Lewis was on the front lines of the movement.  As chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Lewis was largely responsible for organizing the student involvement in peaceful sit-ins and protests throughout the country.  He was the youngest of the Big Six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and a speaker at the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Justice.  In 1965, he and Hosea Williams led a group of protestors attempting to march from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in Alabama across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.  The peaceful marchers, including John Lewis, were brutally attacked by state troopers on a day that became known as Bloody Sunday.  John Lewis was arrested over 40 times in non-violent protests in the cause for equal rights in America.  In 1986, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the 5th Congressional District of Georgia and has served there ever since.

“It is always a pleasure to visit with Congressman Crowley and the people of the 7th Congressional District of New York,” said Congressman Lewis. “As African Americans, we have a great history and a great legacy.  The skill, talent, ingenuity, and creativity of African Americans helped make this nation the world leader that it is today.  We have participated in every major conflict ever waged on behalf of this nation, and our struggle for equal justice has helped make our democracy more open and accessible to all Americans, especially women and all minorities.  That is why it is important to become informed about and to celebrate the African American contribution to this nation, as we do during Black History Month.”

The event also honored two active members of the community – Joyce Miller Howard and Leonard Murrell.  Joyce Miller Howard is a Legacy Life Member of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) and President of the NCNW Co-op City Section. She has also worked to improve and expand the Saturday Education Program that supplements the education of children in grades 2 through 8.

Leonard Murrell is President of the Retirees of Dreiser Loop, as well as a member of Bronx Community Board #10. Mr. Murrell also works to advance civil rights as a Golden Heritage Life Member of the Co-op City Branch of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).   

“It was a true pleasure honoring two of the Bronx’s finest – Joyce Miller Howard and Leonard Murrell.  Joyce and Leonard have focused their lives on advancing the greater good and improving the quality of life for those living here in our neighborhood,” said Congressman Crowley. “Their unwavering commitment to the community sets an example for all of us to follow.”

Since being elected to Congress in 1998, Congressman Crowley has received the highest of rankings from the NAACP for his solid voting record on matters aimed at improving the civil rights of all Americans.  Specifically, he has voted to raise the minimum wage, lower interest rates on college loans, and increase the accessibility and affordability of health care.