By Jennifer L. Warren
NEWBURGH – The list of credentials that surround her name is extensive. Her accomplishments far exceed the parameters of a short biography. However, what truly defines Sadie Tallie is the incomparable size of her heart, the passion she possesses for what is true and right, and the way she simply makes people feel.
Evidence of that incomparable impact permeated throughout the interior of the Newburgh Free Library Monday night as friends, family and dignitaries turned out to pay tribute to a woman who had a vision six decades ago to make her Newburgh community a better, more fair, loving, and united place for all people. Through her dedicated involvements in such platforms as; The Democratic Party, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission, The Coalition for People’s Rights, Black History Committee of the Hudson Valley and The Empower Women of Hope, Ms. Tallie was able to accomplish all of that and so much more.
It’s a crystal clear vision, filled with determination, hope and love that Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson was guided toward when he first set out on his political career.
“I was told there were two people I had to see, and one of them was Sadie Tallie,” recollected Jacobson. “You had a vision and you wanted to make the community succeed, and even though you knew not everyone was being treated as an equal, you never let that stop you.” Jacobson added before reading a Proclamation he presented her with, “You are an inspiration to all of us in the Newburgh community, and I know you will continue to be.”
Born on July 2, 1934 in Clinton, North Carolina, Tallie relocated to New York, first settling in Beacon, before finding her true home in the City of Newburgh, where she “developed a love for this City.” A deeply religious woman heavily involved in her church, she is the mother of seven biological children as well as seven adopted ones-many of whom were on hand at Monday’s celebration. Tallie was not only immersed in fighting for civil rights and providing an entourage of unifying events for the community, she was and remains a passionate advocate for the youth, insisting they not forget their history as well as develop a hard work ethic, respect for education as well as their elders and possess a spiritual foundation.
“She has a true passion for youth, and has helped so many excel, taking them under her tutelage, becoming doctors and lawyers and successful in many ways,” said Elder Dr. Thermond Herring of the Mount Carmel Church of Christ Disciples of Christ. “It has been such an asset to our entire community; you truly deserve this honor.”
Yet another long-time friend of Tallie’s, Deacon Donald Fryar, spoke of her irreplaceable charm, altruism and iconic stature to all those who have been blessed to pass her path.
“You fought for the liberation for African-Americans, and justice for all people; you are truly a gem and we deeply appreciate you,” affirmed Fryar. “There will never be another Mother Tallie.”
That one-of-a-kind nature was alluded to in the words offered by City of Newburgh Mayor, Torrance Harvey as well. Speaking of when he first came to Newburgh and names like Dr. Frank Jones and Reverend Dr. McAllister were presented to him as “giants,” ones that have led the way, Harvey said yet another individual stood out in the discussion of past Newburgh legends from all the rest.
“They said you have to meet Ms. Sadie Tallie,” said Harvey, who presented her with a colorful bouquet of flowers. “I haven’t stopped talking about her since I met her.”
The accolades continued to pour in during the Celebration. Whether it was Minister Alice Boykin talking about how Tallie would stage plays, have children learn Bible phrases, or her diligent efforts to make and deliver Thanksgiving baskets or her son continually telling the audience how much he loved her, calling her “The greatest mom,” or her one daughter referring to her as a wonderful lady; while the other elegantly-emotionally paid tribute to her mother with an authentic, personalized rendition of “You are so Beautiful,” (complete with the heartfelt phrase, “You are phenomenal Sadie Tallie”), everyone present wanted to let her know in some way how much they have genuinely felt her presence and how their lives and so many others are immeasurably better- forever inspired for it.
As the tribute came to an end, the woman of the evening, Mother Tallie herself, clad in a classy black hat, white shawl and blue dress, addressed the audience. True to her nature, she delivered some classic, witty banter, ensuing plenty of laughter. There was also sheer gratitude.
“I want to thank the Committee; they were in charge tonight, and they did a great job,” said Tallie. “There’s still a lot to do, and I want to thank God for those who have caught the vision.” Reflecting further, she added with her trademark no-nonsense demeanor, “Now, you all pray for me, cause I just ain’t having it.”