“Albert Vann, a Brooklyn political dynamo who served in the City Council and the state Assembly, and was a mentor to a generation of African-American elected officials, has died. He was 87.
His death was announced by state Attorney General Letitia James.
“After a lifetime of leadership, mentorship, and principle, the honorable Al Vann passed away peacefully last night,” James said in a statement.
“While much more will be said about the life and legacy of Al Vann, it is safe to say that Brooklyn and all of New York lost a friend, a leader and a legend. May he rest in peace and in power.”
A political source said Vann was in hospice care.
Mayor Adams said Vann’s death hit him hard. Vann spent his life “not only impacting the city, but the country as a whole,” Adams said at City Hall.
“A real mentor, a giant. We’re better as a city because of him. We’re really going to miss him.”
The Rev. Conrad Tillard, a state Senate candidate in Brooklyn’s 25th Senate District, said “A mighty tree has fallen in our village.”
Vann was a member of the state Assembly from 1975 to 2001. When the City Council enacted term limits, Vann exchanged seats with then-Councilmember Annette Robinson.
He was elected to the Council in November 2001, and Robinson was elected to the Assembly in 2002 to fill the vacancy. Vann served on the Council until 2013.
“I am devastated and heartbroken by the loss of former Council Member and Assembly Member Albert Vann,” City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said in a statement. “Vann mentored generations of leaders in New York City and faithfully served his constituents for nearly four decades in elected office.”
“The loss of Mr. Vann is a void that we can never fill,” said U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jefffries (D-Brooklyn). “But the countless people whose lives were touched by Al Vann, myself included, will forever be inspired to fight for change as a result of his tremendous life, legacy and his leadership.”
The tall, dapper goateed Vann was one of the founders of Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and also helped launch the African American Teachers Association.
Vann was a former instructor at Vassar College’s Urban Center for Black Studies.
He was outspoken on the subject of police brutality.
In a City Council speech after the police shooting death of Black, unarmed groom-to-be Sean Bell in 2006, Vann mocked the way Black men were being taught not to incur the wrath of cops.
“Make sure your pants are tight and you walk a certain way,” he said. He was tired of going to funerals for Black men killed by cops.
“How do you legislate a change of heart?” Vann said. “How do you legislate a discriminatory mind, a prejudiced mind? We have to admit what the problem is. Yes, the problem is institutional racism.”
Details of a memorial service were still pending, said AG James“