Special to NewsOne by contributor Bobby Marvin
WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Congressman Charles B. Rangel (D-NY) was honored with the unveiling of his official portrait commemorating his tenure as the 62nd Chairman of the House of Representatives Ways and Means committee.
A small bi-partisan group of congressional lawmakers including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, House Speaker (D-MD), John Boehner (R-OH) and Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) were on hand to congratulate Rangel, who made history when he became the first African-American appointed chair of the committee in 2007.
Rangel made history again in 2010 when he stepped down from the Ways & Means chairmanship amid ethics allegations. Rangel was later censured for ethics violations by his congressional peers.
Yesterday, however, Rangel’s comrades focused on the positive.
“You are the one who is a champion for those who need it most,” said New York’s Democratic junior Senator Katherine Gillibrand.
Rangel was the first New Yorker in 140 years to Chair the powerful Ways and Means committee, which oversees federal funding for Social Security, trade, Medicare, Medicaid, and unemployment benefits. Rangel currently serves as Chairman Emeritus of the Ways and Means Committee. He is also a founding member and former Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
“My life is a story that [says] anyone can make it, from a high school drop-out [to being] the chair of this committee,” said Rangel during a speech after the unveiling.
Hundreds traveled on coach buses from the congressman’s district in New York’s to see the ceremony. L. Ann Rocker, a community activist from Harlem, said she voted for Rangel when he first ran against and defeated Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. in 1970.
“I was really pleased to see such a magnificent portrait of our esteemed congressman who has really worked for 40 years, not just for Harlem but for America,” said Rocker.
Following the ceremony, Rangel hugged and shook hands with constituents as he made his way around the Ways and Means Committee room. Right behind him was his wife Alma, who did the honors of drawing back the curtain to reveal the painting of her husband.
“He worked very hard over the years, he’s been a good congressman,” said Alma Rangel. “The portrait is an example of his dedication to public service.”
The unveiling coincided with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) Annual Legislative Conference taking place this weekend in Washington, D.C.