In 1917, The New York State Assembly elected its first African-American legislator, Assemblyman Edward A. Johnson, a man born into slavery in North Carolina. In 1937, Assemblyman Oscar Garcia Rivera was the first American of Puerto Rican heritage to be elected in the State Assembly.
From those small victories, slowly, two became three, three became four, and four became many. Presently the New York State Legislature has 30 African-American members and 16 Latino members. African-American and Puerto Rican legislators have joined with other Hispanic legislators and New York’s lone Asian legislator to form the Legislative Caucus of Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislators, and the current caucus has a membership of 47 members serving in both houses.
The New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators, Inc. (NYSABPRL) was founded by legislative caucus members as a non-political, charitable organization, incorporated under section 402 of the New York Not-for-Profit Incorporation Law on October 11, 1985. The purpose of the NYSABPRL is to promote the common good, social and general welfare of the various people of the community; foster and maintain an interest in racial tolerance in the world; to encourage the development of the community and promote economic growth.
The NYSABPRL was organized exclusively for charitable or educational purposes as specified by section 501-c-3 of the Internal Revenue code. The NYSABPRL do not to advocate or support either directly or indirectly, the election or defeat of any candidate for public or political office. The NYSABPRL does not donate or contribute to any candidate’s campaign, nor does it participate or engage in political fundraising events, nor otherwise solicit contributions for candidates.
The NYSABPRL endeavors to fulfill its purpose through its main activity, which is the Annual Conference Weekend, which is held during President’s Weekend, in February each year. The weekend conference is attended by thousands of New Yorkers, mostly African-American and Hispanic, yet inclusive enough to represent a diverse cross section of the state’s population. The site of the event is the State Capital, Albany, New York. The weekend events include: informational forums, lectures, business luncheons, award ceremonies, business expo, and craft fair, and culminates with the Grand Gala on Sunday evening; the gala is the NYSABPRL major fundraising source.
The NYSABPRL believes that the common good and general welfare of any community is best promoted by providing access to higher education for aspiring students in need of economic assistance to achieve their dream of earning a college degree. Therefore, NYSABPRL further seeks to fulfill its purpose by providing opportunity to higher education, as the ladder of success for Black, Puerto Rican and other minority New Yorkers. Each year the NYSABPRL College Scholarship Program provides financial assistance to scores of students from economically disadvantaged and low/moderate income families. Funds are distributed through scholarships awarded to students who meet the eligibility criteria established by the NYSABPRL.