Andrew DeGraffenreidt

First African American elected to the Fort Lauderdale City Commission
Congressman Hastings honored the life and achievements of The Honorable Andrew DeGraffenreidt by giving the following speech on March 2, 2009.

"Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor the life and achievements of my dear friend, The Honorable Andrew DeGraffenreidt. Andrew died last week, at age 80, in a West Palm Beach hospital, his health having deteriorated since breaking his hip socket in October. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this most difficult time, and I hope that they may take some comfort in knowing that Andrew had a profound impact on those in our community and made significant contributions to the lives of so many Floridians. "

"Andrew was born in Kansas City, Missouri and reared in Hollandale, Mississippi. From an early age he showed the remarkable intellect that would serve him so well in the years to come, earning a Bachelor of Science degree from Tougaloo College, Mississippi, where he also met his wife, Eddie Pearl. Andrew went on to earn a Master of Science degree in Zoology from Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania."

"Andrew put his education to work immediately, starting work as a teacher at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, before moving to Everglades Junior High, where he headed the science department, retiring in 1982. Additionally, he was the teacher for several programs for the Broward County School's ITV Center, including a program that focused on the contributions of minorities to the development of the United States. Andrew was a magnificent mentor to so many that he taught and had a profound impact on the lives of his students."

"Madam Speaker, Andrew had also had a distinguished career in publicly-elected office, and it is perhaps through this career that he had the greatest influence. Andrew was the first African American elected to the Fort Lauderdale City Commission, serving three terms from 1973-1979. He achieved this office before the city created political districts in 1988, and remains the only African American to have won this office when it was contested city-wide. Andrew was also the first African-American Superintendent of Parks for the city, and served on the boards of Broward County's Urban League and United Way."

"Andrew was a tremendous public servant. He was a champion of the city's neglected minority neighborhoods, working to establish a Youth Advisory Board and to improve city infrastructure. He worked on reforming the city's police department, in particular pushing for the hiring of minorities and encouraging black and white police officers to learn from each other. He also played a key role in opening the Von D. Mizell Community Center in Fort Lauderdale's Dorsey-Riverbend neighborhood. The significance of his work was recognized when, in 2002, the Fort Lauderdale City Commission named the recreation center at Bass Park in his honor and passed a resolution naming Andrew as an Honored Founder of the city."

"Madam Speaker, I will treasure Andrew's memory, and although his life has come to an end, his legacy will live on for generations to come. He will be remembered for his generosity and poise, characteristics which enabled him to improve the lives, and earn the respect, of all those who knew him. I am proud and fortunate to call Andrew my friend, and will miss him dearly."