[Congressional Record Volume 151, Number 106 (Friday, July 29, 2005)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1727-E1728]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                         HON. CHARLES B. RANGEL

                              of new york

                    in the house of representatives

                         Friday, July 29, 2005

  Mr. RANGEL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to John L. 
Procope, who was my friend and an extraordinary African-American 
businessman, entrepreneur, and role model. His passing earlier this 
month is a source of great sadness to a community of colleagues and 
friends who will greatly miss him. I know that Riverside Church, where 
he is being memorialized this morning, is filled with many tears, but 
with many more memories.
  When the Black newspaper, the Amsterdam News, faced financial 
troubles and was threatened with closure, John L. Procope stepped 
forward to ensure that the African-American community in New York 
continued to have a voice and reliable source of information on the 
day's news. Knowing the important and significance of the Amsterdam 
News and other Black newspapers, John ensured that there would 
continually be a voice for a community that had so long been limited in 
its advocacy, expression, and information.
  For generations, the Black press had been the communication hub of 
the Black community. It had been the voice for the community to its 
leaders and to each other. It connected the individuals of the 
community to one another and told the news and events of the day from 
their perspectives. The Black press questioned and challenged the 
system of segregation, highlighted and pointed out the social, 
political and economic inequalities of the community, and disputed and 
countered the official positions on issues of race and class. The Black 
press has historically been the pipeline of the concerns and issues of 
the Harlem community and other Black communities throughout the nation. 
It remains the compelling, focused, and thoughtful voice of the 
community and its residents, and it works against financial challenges, 
to maintain that role.
  John recognized this important role of the black press as a voice to 
and of the community. He knew that for the community to flourish the 
press would have to remain strong. So, when John and his fellow 
investors saw the Amsterdam News faltering, they came to its rescue and 
the rescue of the community. John invested in and resurrected the 
paper. He ensured and maintained its role in Harlem and in Black 
communities throughout New York City. He continued the paper's 
important role as advocate, informer, and champion of the Black 

  The newspaper nonetheless was not John's only legacy. He ventured his 
business and economic skills into other arenas to become a successful 
entrepreneur and a powerful role model. He showed generations of 
African-Americans that to be successful, you had to be committed and 
dedicated, and that being successful did not mean forgetting your roots 
and your community.
  I submit for the Record two articles from the July 26, 2005 edition 
of the CaribNews praising John's dedication and commitment to Harlem 
and the Black community. He will be missed in this community for all 
that he has done, but he may rest peacefully knowing that he has sowed 
the seeds for generations of progress.

                  [From the CaribNews; July 26, 2005]

                  Celebrating The Life of John Procope

       John L. Procope, an entrepreneur and former publisher of 
     The New York Amsterdam News, died on Friday, July 15. He was 
     82 and lived in Queens. The cause was complications from 
       Mr. Procope, a graduate of Morgan State University, was a 
     marketing and advertising executive at several companies 
     before he joined a consortium that bought The Amsterdam News 
     in 1971. He was one of six co-owners of the newspaper when he 
     succeeded Clarence B. Jones as publisher in 1974.
       Mr. Procope earned his bachelor's degree in business from 
     Morgan State University, attended business school at New York 
     University and began his career in advertising. A native New 
     Yorker, he was a former president of the National Newspaper 
     Publishers Association. He was also a president of the Harlem 
     Business Alliance and served as a trustee of Howard 
     University for 15 years.
       The Amsterdam News was founded by James Henry Anderson in 
     1909. W.E.B. Du Bois, Adam Clayton Powell and Malcolm X are 
     among the famous black Americans who have written for the 
     newspaper. Mr. Procope made waves in the Black community when 
     he denounced the looting that took place after the 1977 
     blackout in New York by publishing a blistering editorial 
     charging an apparent vacuum of leadership in the Black 
     communities. Subsequently, he was appointed chairman of an 
     Emergency Aid Commission which disbursed about $3 million to 
     grants to businesses hurt by the looting.
       Mr. Procope left the newspaper in 1982 to focus on E. G. 
     Bowman, an insurance company that had been founded by his 
     wife, Ernesta G. Procope, that was one of the first major 
     African-American-owned businesses

[[Page E1728]]

     on Wall Street. The company's client list started with 
     underserved Brooklyn homeowners but grew to include Fortune 
     500 companies.
       Mr. Procope and his wife were a driving force behind the 
     creation of the Fair Access to Insurance Requirements plan in 
     1968 to help make insurance available to all residents of New 
     York State. He and his wife were also highly visible in 
     political and philanthropic circles.
       In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sisters, Dr. 
     Jean Martin of Bloomfield, Conn. and Jonelle Terrell of 

 John L. Procope--The Passing of a Leader in Newspaper Publishing and 
                     the Consummate Business Leader

       When John L. Procope died last week in New York City at the 
     age of 82, he left behind a number of things.
       The first is a rich legacy as an entrepreneur who along 
     with his wife made a success of a business in an area where 
     few Blacks had dared to walk as owners: Wall Street, perhaps 
     the worlds most famous financial district.
       Secondly, he also left behind a history of having stood on 
     the shoulders of many 19th and 20th century Black newspaper 
     publishers whose organs of information articulated the cause 
     of Black people with verve and determination, during some of 
     the most perilous of times, dating back to era of slavery, 
     through reconstruction, the days of Jim Crow and into the 
     civil rights struggle and right up to these days of immense 
     challenges, successes and failures.
       People like John Russwurm, who in 1827 was a recent 
     graduate of Bowdoin College, and a young militant minister, 
     the Rev. Samuel Cornish, who created and launched ``Freedom's 
     Journal,'' the first Black newspaper in the United States 
     were the models for later Black publishers. The Freedom's 
     Journal was the expression of a force and energy that paved 
     the way for thousands of other Black newspapers which stood 
     at the forefront of the battle for freedom, decency, human 
     rights, civil liberties and respect for people of color.
       The Pittsburgh Courier, the Chicago Defender, the New York 
     Amsterdam News and more recent additions to the list of 
     outstanding voices of Black people, including the CaribNews, 
     have and are making names for themselves with their clarion 
     calls for social and economic justice and racial equality in 
     government, business, the church and other areas of life.
       That Procope was able to lead the Amsterdam News with 
     distinction in the 1970s and early 1980s before he left to 
     devote his full energies to the family business is a measure 
     of the man who like Russwurm traced the roots of his family 
     tree to the Caribbean. His steady hand as the publisher of 
     the Amsterdam News, one of the country's most important Black 
     newspapers, contributed to its viability and while he may not 
     have always pleased all sections of the Black community he 
     certainly made his mark as a voice of reason and frankness, 
     two highly cherished commodities which are often missing in 
     our everyday lives.
       As a co-owner and the publisher of the paper, Procope 
     established a powerful presence and became a major asset as 
     an advocate for Blacks. He routinely assumed that role with 
     both dignity and clarity, never shrinking from the task at 
     hand, even if it meant stating a fact of life that some 
     Blacks found unpleasant to mention.
       This sophisticated, business-like an elegant 20th century 
     man recognized that the power of Black business, whether in 
     newspaper publishing, insurance or in other ventures could be 
     magnified through firm but behind the scenes action or public 
     steps grounded in principle but devoid of fear.
       In his later years, after leaving the Amsterdam News in 
     1982, a decade after he had joined with a group of Blacks who 
     acquired the paper, Procope, joined E. Bowman, an insurance 
     company founded by his wife, Ernesta G. Procope. He served as 
     Chairman of the Board of the company, which served not only 
     poor Black homeowners of Brooklyn but Fortune 500 companies 
     whose shares. were traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
       Both Mr. Procope and his wife were noted for their business 
     acumen and their philanthropic impulses.
       His passing due to complication from pneumonia leaves the 
     City, the business community and the Caribbean much poorer.
       His wife, two sisters, Dr. Jean Martin of Connecticut and 
     Junelle Terrell of Manhattan and other relatives survive him.