NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio led mourners Friday at the funeral of former Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell, Jr.

He was one of the last survivors of Harlem’s political old guard, a so-called “lion” of the community.

The Church of the Intercession on West 155th Street was packed with elected officials, family, and many, many people from the Harlem community. They came because they just plain loved him, a man who dedicated his life to breaking down barriers and improving the lives of people of the city.

“Scripture tells us to be bold as lions. Denny Farrell was a bold lion of Harlem,” said de Blasio.

For decades, Denny Farrell was part of a group people called “the lions of Harlem”: Basil Paterson, Percy Sutton, former Mayor David Dinkins and former Congressman Charles Rangel.

“They were the first to break down the race and class barriers,” said Cuomo.

With Farrell’s passing at 86, only Rangel, 88, and Dinkins, 91, are left.

“I looked at the program, and I see that he’s about five years younger than I. So I guess that means I’m living on borrowed time,” Dinkins said.

If ever there was a symbol of the love and respect these lions of Harlem felt for each other it was this: As Dinkins was helped down the steps by Cuomo, he clasped hands with Charlie Rangel right in front of Farrell’s casket.

“They opened doors for so many of us to try to continue to do right,” said political consultant Charlie King.

“It will carry on because that’s the way Denny taught us,” said Manhattan Democratic Party leader Keith Wright.

But not everyone in Harlem is talking about losing a political icon.

“I lost my dad. I lost a really wonderful person. My sister said, Monique, she said we just lost our best friend,” said Herman D. Farrell III, Denny’s said. “What’s in my heart? Right now, my love for my father.”

Farrell’s casket was carried out of the church draped in the American flag. Farrell’s son told CBS2’s Marcia Kramer how much he loved his city and his state.

Farrell served in the Assembly from 1975 to 2017, chairing the powerful Assembly Ways and Means Committee for the last 23 years.

  1. You forgot to mention Hulan Jack: he was the pioneer.

Leave a Reply to George Schaefer Cancel reply