Rangel, Charles B. 1930- (Charles Bernard Rangel, Charlie Rangel)
Rangel, Charles B. 1930- (Charles Bernard Rangel, Charlie Rangel)
Home—New York, NY. Office—163 W. 125th St., No. 737, New York, NY, 10027; fax: 212-663-3900; 2354 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515-3215; fax: 202-225-0816.
Writer, politician, attorney, memoirist, and U.S. Congressman. Elected to U.S. Congress, 1971; U.S. Committee on Ways and Means, chairman; Trade Subcommittee of the Committee on Ways and Means, member; Joint Committee on Taxation, member; Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, chairman of the board of directors; New York State Congressional Delegation, dean. Held numerous posts in the U.S. government, including chairman of Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control; founding member and chairmen of the Congressional Black Caucus; chairman of New York State Council of Black Elected Democrats; member of House Judiciary Committee during hearings on impeachment of President Richard Nixon. Served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, 1963, counsel to the speaker of the New York state assembly, 1965, counsel of the President's Commission to Revise the Draft Laws, 1966; and as member of the New York State Assembly, 1966-70. Military service: Served in U.S. Army, 1948-52, in Korea; earned Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
Lifetime Achievement Award, Jackie Robinson Foundation, 2005.
(With Leon Wynter) And I Haven't Had a Bad Day Since: From the Streets of Harlem to the Halls of Congress, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2007.
Charles B. Rangel is a United States Congressman serving the fifteenth congressional district of New York, which includes East and Central Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood, and New York's Upper West Side. First elected to this position in 1970, after defeating prominent incumbent Adam Clayton Powell, Rangel has been reelected to his congressional post in every election over nearly four decades. He is a tireless advocate for his district, dedicated to securing funding for projects that will advance and enrich the citizens he represents. As a lawmaker, Rangel is responsible for several significant pieces of legislation, including the Federal Empowerment Zone demonstration project, designed to help repair and revitalize urban neighborhoods throughout the United States; the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, which has come to be responsible for ninety percent of the affordable housing in the country; and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which has provided jobs for many who would otherwise have fewer opportunities, including disadvantaged youth, veterans, and ex-offenders. Rangel has been active on the international stage as well, opposing apartheid in South Africa and helping to restore the democratic government in a troubled Haiti. Throughout his career, Rangel has served on several influential government panels and committees, including the Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the powerful Congressional Ways and Means Committee, where he serves as the senior Democratic member and chairman.
In his memoir, And I Haven't Had a Bad Day Since: From the Streets of Harlem to the Halls of Congress, Rangel and coauthor Leon Wynter recount his difficult childhood; his military experience and how it offered him the opportunity to achieve his educational and professional goals; his early career in politics; and the respect and positions of power he has earned today as a career politician and a tough-minded but fair member of Congress.
Rangel was born in 1930, in New York's Bronx district. His early childhood was marked by poverty and unrest in the harsh and sometimes violent atmosphere of Lenox Avenue. He was fatherless, and found himself shuffled between relatives' homes while his mother worked. Many of his closest relatives were difficult figures; his Uncle Herbert would often beat the young Rangel simply for fun. His grandfather was prickly and judgmental, often saying and doing things that would deflate Rangel's enthusiasm and self-esteem. When he told his grandfather, an elevator operator, that he wanted to be a lawyer, Rangel received only mocking laughter in response. When Rangel dropped out of high school at age sixteen, it appeared that he was destined for a harsh and difficult life on the street. However, his acquaintances included several more ambitious kids from St. Aloysius, a nearby Catholic church. He learned quickly that whatever world he currently lived in, there was always another environment where the experiences would be vastly different. "Moving back and forth between the St. Aloysius world and the meaner streets he lived on gave him his first experience of trying to move smoothly between very different realms of experience, a talent he later raised to a fine art in his political life," commented a reviewer on the Daily Kos Web site.
In 1948, Rangel joined the U.S. Army, which brought him into the conflict of the Korean War. When his unit was ambushed by Chinese troops, Rangel led forty of his men out of harm's way, an act of bravery that earned him a Bronze Star. Injuries sustained during this mission also earned him a Purple Heart. Rangel nearly died from his wounds, and to him, there would be no worse situation he could find himself in. This thought forms the idea behind the title of his memoir; nearly being killed in combat was the worst day he could imagine. With that experience behind him, every day that he was alive from then on would be a good day—in his optimistic view, he hasn't had a bad day since. When Rangel got out of the army, he had a brief struggle with a Veteran's Administration that was reluctant to help him with the benefits he had earned in the military. Soon, these troubles were resolved, and Rangel dedicated himself to completing his education—not just high school and college, but the long-coveted law school as well. Soon, he became a practicing attorney and assumed a position as a deputy prosecutor in the very building in which his grandfather worked. "Throughout this recounting of his career, he tells wonderfully droll stories, both on himself and on his fellows, as he makes his way into the heart of the system," remarked the Daily Kos Web site reviewer.
Rangel describes his first forays into politics and the often racially charged atmosphere that confronted African Americans as they worked to gain a position with the political arena. Since his election, Rangel has spent nineteen terms in the House of Representatives. Over this distinguished career, he has risen through the ranks to become one of the highest-ranking Democrats in Congress. Some of Rangel's suggestions have generated controversy within both political parties. In the wake of the Iraq War, he suggested a reinstatement of the military draft, which was an unpopular notion among many of his colleagues and constituents. However, Rangel had very specific ideas behind his suggestion, most of which involved a more equitable distribution of risk among the rich and the poor. "Do you really think we'd be involved in a war in Iraq if we'd had a draft? If those who pushed us into Iraq knew their own families could be in harm's way, that their sons and daughters could get killed? No." Rangel observes that many military enlistees come from areas where poverty and unemployment are high, and where a military career seems a viable option in the absence of other opportunities. If the middle class and wealthy were more likely to see their own family members tapped for military service during a draft, they would be much less likely to give unconditional, unconsidered support to an ongoing war, Rangel believes.
Rangel's memoir covers the turmoils, victories, defeats, and compromises that are a vital part of a four-decade-long career in politics. Library Journal reviewer Jill Ortner called the book an "entertaining memoir, less a study of politics than an account of a remarkable life." New York Times reviewer Eric Alterman remarked: "Rangel's racially based, clubhouse style of politics may not appeal to everyone, including this reviewer." However, Alterman concluded, "as a politician/raconteur with a hell of a tale to tell, he sure has my vote."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Rangel, Charles B., And I Haven't Had a Bad Day Since: From the Streets of Harlem to the Halls of Congress, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2007.
America's Intelligence Wire, December 28, 2003, "Interview with Rudy Giuilani; Interview with Charles Rangel, David Dreier—Part 2"; January 28, 2004, "Interview with Charles Rangel"; September 1, 2004, "Interviews with Charles Rangel, Bernard Kerick"; October 2, 2004, "Interview with Charles Rangel"; April 29, 2005, "Interview with Congressman Charles Rangel, Former Congressman Rick Lazio"; September 30, 2005, "Interview with Congressman Charles Rangel"; November 16, 2005, "Interview with Senator Charles Rangel."
Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, December 7, 1996, Alissa J. Rubin, "Many-Faceted Rangel Positioned to Become House Deal-Maker," p. 3335.
Crisis, July 1, 2007, Herb Boyd, "New York Pol Spins Tales of Two Cities—Harlem and Capitol Hill," review of And I Haven't Had a Bad Day Since, p. 42.
Current Biography, March, 1984, "Rangel, Charles B," p. 35.
Ebony, December, 1989, Laura B. Randolph, "Top of Capitol Hill: Majority Whip and Five Black Committee Chairmen Are at Summit of Congressional Power," p. 144.
Essence, April, 2007, Katti Gray, "A Straight Shooter: New York Congressman Charles Rangel Is the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Essence Caught Up with Him to Discuss His Job, the Draft and Why He Told a World Leader to Shut Up," p. 132.
Jet, September 10, 1981, "Son of Adam Clayton Powell Dropped from Rangel's Office Staff," p. 6; March 21, 1983, "Rep. Charles Rangel Is New Deputy Whip in U.S. House," p. 5; August 19, 1991, "Rangel Demands Fed Prosecute in Rape Case," p. 29; April 11, 2005, "Rep. Charles Rangel Honored by Jackie Robinson Foundation," p. 21.
Library Journal, April 15, 2007, Jill Ortner, review of And I Haven't Had a Bad Day Since, p. 104.
Meet the Press, September 11, 1988, "Richard L. Thornburgh; Rep. Charles Rangel," p. 1.
Military History, April, 2007, "Charles B. Rangel: Driving the Draft," p. 14.
New York Times Book Review, April 22, 2007, Eric Alterman, "Lives of the Democrats," review of And I Haven't Had a Bad Day Since, p. 23.
Publishers Weekly, January 29, 2007, review of And I Haven't Had a Bad Day Since, p. 52.
Real Estate Weekly, November 1, 2006, Esther O. Perez, "Rangel Gets Out the Vote," p. 10.
Time, December 11, 2006, Perry Bacon, Jr., "10 Questions for Charles Rangel," p. 8.
AfroCuba Web site,http://www.afrocubaweb.com/ (December 5, 2007), biography of Charles B. Rangel.
Charlie Rangel Home Page,http://www.charlierangel.org (December 5, 2007).
Congressman Charles B. Rangel Home Page,http://rangel.house.gov (December 5, 2007).
Daily Kos,http://www.dailykos.com/ (April 1, 2007), review of And I Haven't Had a Bad Day Since.
Washington Post Online,http://projects.washingtonpost.com/ (December 5, 2007), biography of Charles B. Rangel.
CEO Wire, January 28, 2004, Neil Cavuto, transcript of television interview with Charles Rangel.