Roxie Royal, Sadie Tallie and Lillie Howard will be honored on Saturday, September 30 by the Newburgh Highland Falls NAACP Chapter at their Freedom Fund Banquet. The celebration of these three community pillars is set to take place on Saturday, September 30 at Spruce Lodge from 6 to 10 p.m.
Roxie Royal: Born in 1930, Royal, who passed away in November 2022 at the age of 92, was the mother of six children, grandmother to 14 grandchildren and great-grandmother to seven great-grandchildren.
Royal served as chair of the City of Newburgh Democratic Committee. Royal was reported to have served at the Montgomery Street School as the first African American secretary with the Parent Teachers Association (PTA). She would later serve as the first African American PTA president at the Broadway School. Royal also was a member of the Cornerstone Family Healthcare staff for 15 years as a social worker and was the creator of the City of Newburgh’s anti-drug demonstration project.
Sadie Tallie: A current Town of Newburgh resident, Tallie was born in the City of Clinton, North Carolina and came to the Newburgh area in 1950. Tallie created and started a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, created the RACE program, a Christian based community youth program and served as Executive Director for the Coalition for People’s Rights for 27 years.
Tallie has raised seven children and remains a longtime member of Mount Carmel Church of Christ congregation and the Black History Committee of the Hudson Valley. Even though she has gotten older, Tallie continues to remain active however she can in the community.
Lillie Howard: Born into a middle class in the city, Howard was born in St. Luke’s Hospital. At the age of 17, Howard went into show business performing alongside Billy Ford and his group known as The Thunderbirds. The duo became known as Billy & Lillie and performed all across the country.
Howard returned to her home city in 1960 and like many families in the city during that time, Howard’s family underwent the difficult period of Urban Renewal, losing what was once their homes in demolition.
Howard is a mother of six children, including Councilman Omari Shakur and school board member Philip Howard. She would eventually take on parental duties by herself as her husband would later on abandon the family. Her involvement in activism and advocacy stemmed from the abandonment and as she continued on, Howard went on to form the Black Women’s Community Service Club. “I feel honored that they are recognizing us. Because we work through women that were very active in our city. And so it feels good to know that all your work was not in vain, and that it’s been acknowledged. And I thank God that I’m still here,” said Howard.
NAACP Newburgh Highland Falls Chapter President Ray Harvey and his team have been working over the past several weeks to spread the word on the event and to sell tickets. Harvey never had the opportunity to meet Royal before her passing but felt it was important to celebrate her along with these other impactful women and celebrate all they had done for the city.
“These women’s been around for a long time and they done did so much great work in this community,” said Harvey. “In the black community when we start calling someone ‘mother,’ that’s an endurance to them. That mean a lot. Everybody don’t get to be called ‘mothers’ by the community.”
Harvey is also working towards a creation of scholarships, one named after each of the women, for City of Newburgh students to be awarded.
Tickets are still available for the celebration at newburghareanaacp.org, and any further information, community members can contact Harvey at 845-527-0862.