Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Athalie Range Remembered

Athalie Range is gone but not forgotten. Having passed at age 91 yesterday, Ms. Range left an enduring legacy of public service. Since we grew up here, I can attest that Ms. Range was the pioneer for civil rights in this community. She was working for change here two years before anyone had heard of Martin Luther King. That 1953 project to rectify conditions at her kid's elementary school in Liberty City set her on a path of social reform that carried itself even as far as just ten days ago where she presided at a cultural arts foundation fundrasier that bears her name. We can also say, that without a doubt, she was the most ethical politician this community has seen in the last fifty-years.

Her firsts include:
  • First African-American on Miami's City Commission
  • First black--and woman-- to serve in a high-ranking state government post as director of the Department of Community Affairs.
You can thank her for MetroRail. In a close election, she was instrumental in getting her constituents to vote in favor of the controversial referendum that was being criticised for its expense.

When Verticus, who was living in North Miami at the time, looked south and saw huge columns of smoke rising off of 79th street during the 1980 riots, Ms. Range was bravely walking the streets where people were being murdered left-and-right, talking to anyone who would listen in order to quell the riots.

Probably her greatest legacy was the way she approached the world: tirelessly, never giving up despite adversity to right wrongs and to give a voice to the voiceless. Public figures like her are rare and even rarer here.

Thanks, Ms. Range, for staying the course over all those years. If it hadn't been for you, we fear our communtiy would be in much worse shape and its government less than salvageable.

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