Lawmakers push to rename Morrisania Post Office after Herman Badillo

The late Herman Badillo left his imprint on American history by becoming the country’s first Puerto Rican elected as congressman, Bronx borough president and city commissioner.
Photo courtesy of Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives

A trailblazing statesman who valiantly fought for the south Bronx may soon have a local post office named in his honor.

On Thursday, July 9, U.S. senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand along with congressmembers José Serrano, Charles Rangel and Joseph Crowley announced that both the Senate and the House of Representatives have passed legislation to rename the Morrisania Post Office in honor of the late former congressman and Bronx borough president, Herman Badillo.

Morrisania Post Office is a historical federal building included on the National Register of Historic Places.

Badillo is remembered for becoming the first Puerto Rican city commissioner and borough president in addition to being the first Congressman to be born in Puerto Rico.

The bill will now be sent to President Obama and once approved, Badillo’s name will be proudly displayed on the building.

“Herman Badillo’s contributions to the Bronx, the City of New York and our country as a whole, cannot be overstated,” Congressman Crowley expressed. “Renaming the Morrisania branch of the U.S. Postal Service is a fitting tribute for someone who was not only a trailblazer for the Latino community, but a champion for vulnerable communities everywhere.”

Born in Caguas, Puerto Rico on August 21, 1929, Badillo lost both of his parents to tuberculosis at an early age when the epidemic swept through the island in 1934.

Raised by his grandfather and aunt Aurelia Rivera, Badillo, then 11, emigrated to America in 1941 settling in New York City.

Badillo graduated with honors from City College in 1951 where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and three years later was declared valedictorian of his class at Brooklyn Law School.

He was elected Bronx borough president in 1965 and in 1970, he was elected to Congress.

Badillo would spend seven years as a congressman representing the south Bronx, an area for which he fought for voting rights, programs to help inner cities and bilingual education.

In 1971, Badillo brought mainstream attention to the issue of Puerto Ricans not being eligible for federal benefits under Social Security, such as food stamps.

From 1999 until 2001, Badillo served as CUNY board chairman and oversaw the end of open enrollment in senior colleges, higher admissions and graduation requirements.

Badillo, 85, passed away on December 3, 2014 in Manhattan due to congestive heart failure, according to published reports.

“Herman Badillo’s legacy serves as a proud reminder of the American Dream. Badillo came from a Puerto Rican family and he showed us that despite the humble beginning, economic disadvantages and discrimination he faced, he was able to persevere,” Senator Schumer said.

“Herman Badillo was a trailblazer and a pioneer in Congress, as Bronx borough president and as a fighter on the issues that mattered to him the most. Renaming the Morrisania Post Office in honor of Herman Badillo is a fitting tribute to his service in the federal government and I was proud to have been able to propose this wonderful honor for a man who was both a mentor and a friend to me,” Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said.

“I thank our senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as our congressional representatives, for supporting this wonderful recognition for Herman Badillo and I look forward to President Obama signing this legislation and making the ‘Herman Badillo Post Office’ a reality.”

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