Congressman José E. Serrano

Representing the 15th District of New York

Serrano Mourns Passing of Community Leader Ramon Velez

Dec 1, 2008
Press Release

Congressman José E. Serrano mourned the passing of legendary political activist and Bronx leader Ramon Velez today.

“Ramon Velez created a political and social movement that has had deep and lasting effects on New York City,” Serrano said. “Most of the Puerto Rican elected officials who have held office since the 1970s were elected in large part because of Ramon Velez’ work organizing the community. His voter registration drives added more than half a million new voters to the rolls, effectively enfranchising the Spanish-speaking citizens of our city. There are still echoes of his efforts to organize the South Bronx in the social movements in our borough and city today. His models for organizing were based in his deep belief in the power of the people. That is at the heart of all great community empowerment movements.

“I first met Ramon as I was becoming active in my community in the late 1960s starting at the South Bronx Community Corporation. Along with Federico Perez and George Rodriguez, I learned from Ramon and was inspired by his profound faith in the community as well as his deep understanding and celebration of the Puerto Rican identity. Based on these shared beliefs, we have all gone on to dedicate our professional lives to serving the people of the Bronx. Ramon was integral to making such service a core value in our community and shaping the careers of hundreds of young Latinos and African-Americans who are now leaders in government and social service in New York and beyond.

“From the voter registration drives, to setting up the Hunts Point Multi-Service Center, to incorporating the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, and pushing for respect for Spanish speakers in our City in a variety of ways, Ramon Velez’ work has had almost unparalleled impact on our City. He was a visionary and a talented organizer. Our community will miss this great man.”