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Public Employee Press
DC 37 at Harlem's 45th annual African American Day Parade
By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
A large contingent of DC 37 members and retirees marched with local banners and rode DC 37's Green Machine floats, said Black History Committee Chair and Local 1113 President Deborah Pitts, who coordinated the union's participation. Hundreds of union members attended the Harlem parade, one of the nation's largest celebrations of African American culture.
This year's grand marshals included the Rev. Al Sharpton, former New York Gov. David Paterson, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, educator Dr. Adelaide Sanford, U.S. Congress member Charles Rangel, who DC 37 endorsed for reelection, Ms. Roberts, the mayor, and Imam Izal-El Pasha, a former FDNY chaplain and Local 299 member.
City Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro marched with FDNY EMS personnel in DC 37 locals 2507 and 3621 and the Vulcan Society fraternity of Black Firefighters, signaling the city's shift forward toward unity and greater inclusion under de Blasio.
"This is the first time I can recall a fire commissioner marching in the African American Day Parade," said Fire Dept. 19-year veteran Vincent Variale, who is president of EMS Lieutenants and Captains Local 3621. "It's great that he marches in all parades and shows support for everyone in the department."
FDNY employs 16,000 members in AFSCME, DC 37's parent union, including Emergency Medical Technicians in Local 2507, EMS Captains and Lieutenants in Local 3621, Local 1549 clerical workers, Chaplains in Local 299, and members of several other DC 37 locals.
"I have marched in this parade for few years, and this year the EMS turnout was tremendous," said Israel Miranda, Local 2507 president. "It is such an honor to march with the commissioner, and the people are so energized. It's contagious!"
Dignity and pride was this year's theme for the parade that featured steppers and marching bands from historically black colleges, sororities and fraternities, along-side labor unions and grassroots groups from 12 states. Parade organizers called for unity and an end to racism and racial profiling.