by: Verona Forde [email protected] The media was right; nobody came to Congressman Charlie Rangel's 80th Birthday Gala. Everybody who is somebody was present at the Plaza Hotel on August 11 celebrating and honoring a distinguished public servant. After Jackie Rowe-Adams sang God Bless America, Congressman Rangel spoke as he looked pleasingly over a jam packed ballroom of family, friends and colleagues. "This is wonderful," he cried out. He thanked and appreciated the support of his wife and daughter. At the same time, he made it clear that "I ain't thinking about giving it up." Why should he? There were plenty of people to give strong accolades, thanks, admiration and appreciation for the numerous years of public service and dedication. Mayor Micheal Bloomberg said that Congressman Rangel will be doing this for a long time. New York City Council Speaker, Christine Quinn, thanked hime for everyting he has done for New York City and the LGBT. New York State Speaker, Shelly Silver recited an axiom: When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. That's Congressman Rangel. He improve the lives of many. Speaker Silver hoped to be standing with Congressman at many more birthdays. Governor Paterson thanked all of the Congressman's friends for coming out. Mr. Rangel graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School. Then he enlisted in the U.S. army and served in Korea. He returned to Harlem, attended New York University and St.John's University. He worked for a law firm and was appointed Attorney General in 1961. From there, he was elected to the New York State Senate which led him to be out Congressman for 40 years. He had an impact on Harlem. "Congressman Rangel put people first but tonight we put him first," said the Governor. Rev. Al Sharpton claimed we showed up for the Congressman because he showed up for us. He was the first along with Rev. Sharpton to get arrested in front of 1 Police Plaza regarding the Diallo shooting. Some how that was forgotten and in recent weeks the media used allegations as a political execution. Rev. Sharpton looked dead into the eye of the media cameras lined up in the back of the room and said that tonight it is a political resurrection. Congressman Joe Crowley said that he could have been anywhere in the world but he wouldn't miss it. New York State Sentor, Kristen Gillibrand, mentioned that Congressman was there fighting for health care for the 911 Responders. She thanked him for his service to the state and the country. He made a difference to the families in Harlem and New York State. Andrew Cuomo was introduced by the Governor as The Closer and the next New York Governor. Mr. Cuomo talked about how he watched the Congressman operate in Washington, D.C. Mr. Rangel made sure $300 million went back to Harlem. According to Mr. Cuomo, Congressman's voice is a powerful voice for the Harlem community. Limping to the stage because of an injury to the foot, Councilwoman Inez Dickens looked at Congressman Rangel and said we are all here to stand with you and beside you. There must be a preacher in Ms. Dickens because with conviction as if she was prophesying, she said to the Congressman,"You will be going back to Washington in January." Ms. Dickens led the call and response with the words - We love you and you can return to Washington as long as you want. New York Comptroller, John Liu, said this is the party of the century. He was proud and blessed to be among the generation to follow in the Congressman's footsteps. Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate, reflected to 1994 when he was the campaign manager for Congressman Rangel who beat Powell. Mr. Rangel fought for Haiti for decades and brought in the Earn Income Tax Credit to level the playing field which Rangel did quietly and never took credit. Senior New York Senator, Chuck Schumer, mentioned that Rangel,never let us down when delivering from Washington to New York. "He has always been there and we are so grateful for that," humbly said Senator Schumer. Senator Jose Serrano remembered being the first Puerto Rican to sit on the Appropriate Committee. He said an adage in Spanish and translated in English to mean - tell me who you walk with and I'll tell you who you are. Congressman Jerry Nadler made the statement that if this was a court of law, most of this won't hold up. When a great man is accused, there must be due process and be give his fair day. Dionne Warwick sang What the World Needs Now, Alfie and What Friends Are For which the audience sang along. Danny Mixon Quartet played for the Congressman's party. Chuck Johnson, who is well known for his deep operatic voice, sang You'll Never Walk Alone which is very fitting under the circumstances. But the Congressman knows he is not alone. The place was a sea of friends and supporters such as New York State Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, Harry Belefonte, Congressman Meeks, Congressman Ed Towns, Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez, Queens Borough President, Helen Marshall and running for Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman. It is like the Congressman is standing on a box and the 13 allegations are like a noose around his neck. An attendee described the current events as a media lynching except no one has kick the box from under him yet. They are waiting for him to step off the box. As Congressman Rangel said to the House of Reps the day before his party, "I'm not going away."
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PHOTOS: Friends and Family Celebrate Charlie Rangel’s Birthday
News & Politics