By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
CAMDEN — For Rann Miller, influential columnist and director of 21st Century Community Learning Center, Rosa Ramirez was a towering figure as a child while attending St. Joseph’s pro-Cathedral School from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.
Ramirez, who died last week, left an indelible mark on Miller’s life and many who came in contact with her.
“As a young student, I saw her as a chief disciplinarian,” Miller said. “Whenever anyone misbehaved and none of the teachers, nor the principal, could work with the student in question, they were sent to Mrs. Ramirez.
“We (my peers and I) originally thought she was mean but the reality is that she understood how to deal with a school that was a majority Latino/a population. She also had familiarity with the Black community in the city and therefore could reach to students like myself.”
He said as a child, he didn’t know of her activist roots, aggressively advocating for those very children she was keeping in line in East Camden.
“What we didn’t realize was that she was an activist for the East Camden community and that her work was fighting on behalf of that community; fighting for resources, access to opportunities and for the dignity of the people to be respected and honored,” Miller said.
“That’s her legacy. She was a fighter and a light in a city others left for dead in the dark. May her soul receive eternal rest.”
Ramirez, the former president of the Camden Churches Organized for People of Color (CCOP) was called a community “icon” by city leaders who recognized her passing last Friday.
Camden Mayor Victor Carstarphen and City Council President Angel Fuentes issued a joint statement this weekend remembering Ramirez. She will have a visitation and service from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 13 at the St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral, 2907 Federal Street, in Camden.
“She was a Camden resident and was beloved by the community she served,” Carstarphen and Fuentes said in their statement. “Rosa was considered a strong leader, Hispanic trailblazer, a Camden icon, and remained dedicated to Camden until her passing.
The leaders said as president and longtime member of CCOP, Ramirez advocated for residents, pushing for change to public safety, and equity for people of color, and encouraged reinvestment within the City’s neighborhoods. She was also a founding member of the St. Joseph Carpenter Society.
Ramirez was employed with the Diocese of Camden at St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral School for many years.
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“Rosa Ramirez was regarded as a mentor, fighting for social justice and provided a voice for those who went ignored,” Carstarphen and Fuentes said. They added that “City of Camden, residents and stakeholders are grateful for her love and dedication for the City of Camden.”
Camden County Commissioners Director Louis Cappelli, Jr. added his voice to the tributes as well, saying on Twitter: “Rosa was a strong advocate for the residents of Camden. She selflessly always fought for the underprivileged and underserved. She was truly one of a kind.”
Ramirez is survived by her husband Roberto Ramirez; her daughters, Nancy Rodriguez (Alex) and Melissa Portscheller (Tai); her grandchildren, Shania Jimenez, Joana Portscheller and Ariana Rodriguez; and her sisters, Aida Rodriguez (Pedro) and Ana Morales (Bienvenido).
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St. Joseph Carpenter Society, 20 Church Street in Camden, attention to: Rosa Ramirez Scholarship.
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