Obama Heads to U.N. for Building Dedication

By Jeff Mays on March 29, 2011 6:08pm | Updated on March 29, 2011 6:07pm

President Barack Obama dedicated a building to Ronald H. Brown on Tuesday.
President Barack Obama dedicated a building to Ronald H. Brown on Tuesday.
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By Jeff Mays

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

HARLEM — Lost in the hoopla of President Barack Obama's trip to Red Rooster Harlem was his afternoon stop at the United Nations to dedicate a building to Ronald H. Brown, the former Secretary of Commerce who was killed in a plane crash in Croatia in 1996.

Brown, who served under President Bill Clinton, was the first African American to hold the position. Brown was a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and deputy campaign manager for Senator Edward M. Kennedy. He also served as a deputy executive director of the National Urban League. He was raised in Harlem where his father served as manager of the Theresa Hotel, where Fidel Castro once stayed.

Rep. Charlie Rangel, who was present at the afternoon dedication, spoke fondly of Brown, saying he had met the future commerce secretary at an early age, when Rangel worked as a desk clerk at the Theresa Hotel.

"Ron Brown was a proud son of Harlem, a New Yorker who never forgot where he came from and stopped looking for opportunities to keep the American Dream alive for all of our neighbors," Rangel said in an email to DNAinfo.

"Forever, when people look at this building, they will forever remember his legacy, to his community, to his nation and to the world."

The 26-story building Obama dedicated to Brown is at 799 United Nations Plaza, across the street from the United Nations General Assembly.

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