Upper Manhattan Street to be Co-Named for Former Community Activist & State Assembly Member, Marie Runyon

**ADVISORY** April 5, 2019
CONTACT: Jake Sporn // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

Morningside Heights, NY – This Sunday, April 7th at 2pm, Council Member Levine will be unveiling “Marie Runyon Way” at the northeast corner of Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive in Upper Manhattan.

Marie Runyon, born on March 20, 1915, was known for challenging Columbia University’s expansion plans in Harlem and Morningside Heights. Columbia’s College of Pharmaceutical Sciences was hoping to demolish the Columbia-owned apartment buildings as part of the university’s master plan to accommodate more students and replace antiquated facilities. She spearheaded her own protests, as well as rent strikes and legal action against the evictions and won most of her suits under rent control protections. In 1996, Columbia announced that it would no longer seek to evict the people still living in her building and in 2002, Columbia announced that a renovated building was being renamed Marie Runyon Court.

In 1969, she established Marie Runyon Associates to raise funds for progressive and radical groups and later won the Democratic nomination for the Assembly seat representing West Harlem and Morningside Heights and won the general election. While serving as an Assembly Member, she helped win partial clemency from Governor Hugh L. Carey for Martin Sostre, a Puerto Rican independence advocate who was serving a 41-year sentence on questionable drug and riot charges.

In 1977 she founded Harlem Restoration Project, which was organized to preserve and restore affordable housing in Harlem, and which hired former inmates to rehabilitate apartments. She campaigned against American involvement in Vietnam, supported the Black Panthers and nuclear disarmament. She continued to get arrested for civil disobedience into her 90s as a leader of the Granny Peace Brigade, which protested the war in Iraq.

Said Louise Runyon, Marie’s daughter, "It's important that my mother's story be remembered, to provide an example to others fighting for justice in many different ways.  I hope people will see the sign, look up Marie Runyon online, and be encouraged and inspired!"

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