Ampry-Samuel: Political Star On The Rise

City Councilwoman Alicka Ampry-Samuel, in red, takes the oath of office. Photo by Stephen Witt

When the crescendo of speeches from elected officials finally subsided Saturday, at God’s Battalion of Prayer Church in East Flatbush, there was something Lincolnesque in the speech from the person they came to honor in her inauguration ceremony – City Councilwoman Alicka Ampry-Samuel (D-Brownsville, East Flatbush, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown heights).

City Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel

The speech was short, humble and heartfelt and told with the pride of being “Brooklyn made and Brownsville raised.” Of how she grew up in public housing, lost her father at a fairly young age to a heroin overdose and a best friend to gun violence, yet came through it with love intact, never forgetting her roots.

“We stayed and prayed up. We learned hope is inside. We organized in the NYCHA houses. We cleaned and protected our streets,” said Ampry-Samuel, noting how her family came to New York City from South Carolina in 1935 and settled in Brownsville for several generations.

“We (Black-Americans) have a history of pushing along and preserving our heritage. We built this country. This is our United States of America. We are lawyers and doctors, sanitation workers and police and firefighters, but we can’t do everything alone. We show up and show out,” she said.

Ampry-Samuel comes to the city council with a wealth of experience rooted in her Brownsviile upbringing intertwined with solid educational, work and worldly experience.

Among the elected officials that attended Amprey-Samuel’s inauguration were in the front rown left to right, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, City Council Member Mark Treyger, State Sen. Roxanne Persaud, Comptroller Scott Stringer and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

This includes obtaining a degree in psychology from North Carolina A&T State University. She then returned home to address poverty and homelessness before doing a stint with the U.S. State Department in Ghana, West Africa. After returning home again, she became a case worker with the city’s Administration for Children Services, and then decided to study law at CUNY School of Law and graduated with a Juris Doctor in 2005.

Amry-Samuel also is a former Democratic District Leader and Chief of Staff for Assemblywoman Latrice Walker.

Many of the speakers including Comptroller Scott Stringer, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Congress members Hakeem Jeffries and Yvette Clarke, Walker and City Council Member Laurie Cumbo spoke about Ampry-Samuel’s road to city hall.

Others, such as childhood friend NYPD Sgt. Kevin Royall, recalled growing up with Ampry-Samuel in Brownsville, where despite the crime, violence and poverty, there was always a sense of friendship and family.

And Ampry-Samuel vowed in her speech that the community will continue to fight together as Brownsville increasingly becomes gentrified. This includes working with longtime community organizations and local schools.

“This doesn’t end with us being forced out because of gentrification. The people who have always lived here deserve a safe community and nice places to dine and shop right here in the community. We deserve to enjoy the fruits. NYCHA residents deserve this. We deserve affordable workspaces, and housing and more employment,” she said.