Frederick E. Samuel, affectionately known as “Fred,” was born in Montserrat, West Indies on January 22, 1924 and passed away due to a heart attack on September 12, 1985 at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. He was the only child of Richard Samuel and Susan Nanton Samuel. Fred spent his early childhood in Montserrat, where he received a Christian upbringing, and graduated from the Montserrat secondary school. Fred came to New York City in 1943. He was a brilliant and serious young man who, with the love support and encouragement of his parents graduated, from McGill University in Montreal, Canada with a Bachelors of Science in 1949. In 1950 he received his Masters of Arts from New York University and a law degree from the Fordham University School of Law in 1954.
As a young lawyer he began his practice in the Harlem community and soon established himself as the people lawyer. Sincere and dedicated to articulating the needs and concerns of the little people. Out of his desire to better service the people of his beloved Harlem, Fred founded and became the first president of the Harlem Assertion. He began a political career as a district leader, going on to become a city councilman for the 5th Councilman District., and later sat as chairman of the council’s prestigious public safety committee. He was the first black chair, the second most important committee in the city council. For 12 years he served as councilman with distinction and effectiveness. On September 10th, 1985 he was nominated as the candidate for reelection in the Democratic primary.
”It is morally wrong to perpetuate a system and a practice which promote minor political party representation at the clear expense of ethnic justice,” he said in an article for the New York Times when he was running for office.
As the founder of the Frederick E. Samuel Community Democratic Club, Fred was in the forefront of all battles to develop and improve the Harlem community, establishing programs to improve the quality of life for children, senior citizens and all community residents. Through the expansion of the anti-arson teams his fire safety program evolved and was made an honorary fire chief. He was instrumental in increasing the number of police officers for the New York City Housing Authority and was one of the original organizers of Harlem Day.
As Fred rose in prominence he always remained faithful his concept of an open door policy and was never too busy to serve his constituents. He never lost the common touch. It was not unusual for him to spend 16 hours a day working diligently on legislative and community problems.
Councilman Samuel has been cited and honored over the years by scores of community civic religious organizations.