In a heartfelt show of Brownsville unity, Alicka Samuel tonight kicked off her campaign for the 41st City Council District Seat with the strong support of family, friends, Assemblywoman Latrice Walker (D-Brownsville) and male Democratic District Leader Anthony Jones.
Term-limited City Councilwoman Darlene Mealy currently holds the seat which includes Brownsville and parts of Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights and East Flatbush.
“I’m humbled and honored in this position to be here for the community that put so much into me, and I can’t help but talk so much about Brownsville. It’s who I am and where I come from,” Samuel told her supporters at the 3 Black Cats Cafe, 3 Belmont Avenue in the thriving Downtown section of Brownsville
“My great grandmother moved to Brownsville in 1945 from South Carolina. I grew up in the Marcus Gravey Houses in apartment 6A. I want to recognize we are a beautiful people in a beautiful place. You always hear about the gun violence, but they [the media] don’t tell about the great things we are doing in the community.”
Samuel recounted growing up in the neighborhood where everybody knew everybody and looked out for all the kids. How she went away to North Carolina A&T State University and gave the commencement speech before coming back to New York City first working with the mentally ill homeless, and then with the City’s Administration for Children’s Services.
How her experience includes a three-year stint with the U.S. State Department in Ghana before coming back and going to law school with Walker, and becoming a female Democratic District Leader, and now running for the City Council.
“Now we have opportunity to elect a person who is homegrown and from the community. I have the skill set and the expertise and this falls down to the politics of it. We need leaders who care. Who are passionate and educated. A lot of folks don’t care about that. All they see is the lane that is available and to expand their own district. It’s unfair and disrespectful and we’re not going to have any of that. There’s a lot of people running out there, but they don’t have what I have. It is what it is, right here,” said Samuel.
Walker said listening to Samuel’s speech had her in tears. “I knew when I ran I took a leap of faith. I didn’t know what the outcome would be because I didn’t care. I knew who I played double dutch with and who I played skellies with. I remember nice summer days when they turned on the johnny pump. I don’t have to read about my neighborhood. The community raised me, and when Alicka and I studied for the law exam together, people would come down and say, ‘Here’s food.” At the end of the day, they knew if they invested in these two sisters that came down the broken and darkened stairwells, they knew it was us that would stand with them. And we weren’t the exception. We were just two kids,” said Walker.
Walker said getting Samuel elected is crucial as it will represent the first time in many years where Brownsville will have a direct connection between state and city elected officials.
“In the state assembly I can provide money for an entire community center, but it’s city council money that can purchase the computers for the center and fund community based local organizations,” said Walker.
“So I need a partner. Every assembly person has a partner in the city council, but one, me. It’s not right to me and more importantly to our kids. So take a leap with Alicka. Pour it into her and you’re pouring it into yourselves – not who knows who or who helps who.”
Other candidates running in the Democratic primary include Henry Butler, Deidre Olivera, Cory Provost and Kathleen Daniel.