New York resident Alelia Murphy has lived a glorious 114 years, and the entire Harlem community turned out Friday to celebrate her in a birthday bash fit for a queen who’s the oldest living person in the entire U.S.
Kicking off the festivities, Harlem officials honored Murphy on her special day by officially declaring July 6, her birthday, “Alelia Murphy Appreciation Day,” according to CNN. State Sen. Brian Benjamin attended the party and presented Murphy with a copy of the declaration.
“This is Harlem history,” Benjamin told partygoers who crowded the second floor of the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building last week. “This is family history. We’re standing here with a Harlem landmark, a Harlem icon – Mrs. Alelia Murphy.”
The local leader also thanked Murphy for her contributions to the Harlem community, a place she’s called home since 1926.
According to PIX 11, the North Carolina native relocated to the Manhattan borough at the peak of the Harlem Renaissance. It was her involvement in church and several local organizations that cemented her as a pillar in the community.
After losing her husband in 1953, Murphy continued raising her two kids on her own and supported the family by working as a seamstress.
“My grandmother, her strength — I don’t know where she gets it from, but she has been through so many things,” Nefer Nekhet, one of Ms. Murphy’s granddaughters told the station. “She is the glue that holds this family together.”
“We ask her, ‘Grandma, ‘you been here for a very long time,'” Nekhet added, “and she said ‘I’m here because you all don’t know how to live. I am here to teach you all how to live [and] things to do.'”
So what’s her secret to longevity? Murphy said one must simply “Trust in God and be a good person,” according to relatives.
Her daughter, Rose Green, said she’s grateful to have had her mother for as long as she has. Green said she visits her super-centenarian mother almost every day and considers her a best friend. Unlike most folks her age, family members said Murphy doesn’t suffer from any ailments or illnesses.
“She’s excited, she said she must be blessed because the lord kept her here for so long,” Nekhet told PIX 11.
Friday’s bash was hosted by by the African American Caucus of 1199SEIU, a local union of healthcare workers. Green is a retired 1199 member.
The Gerontology Research Group has since validated Murphy’s age. As reported by CNN, she trails the world’s oldest, person Kane Tanaka of Japan, by two years and 185 days.
Watch more in the video below.