Marie M. Runyon

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Marie M. Runyon (born March 20, 1915) is an American political activist from New York.


Runyon was born on March 20, 1915, in Brevard, North Carolina.[1] She moved to New York City in 1947. She became active in the rent strike movement in Harlem and entered politics as a Democrat. In 1974 she defeated the incumbent Assemblyman Jesse Gray in the Democratic primary of the 70th Assembly District by fewer than 200 votes and, in November, was elected to the Assembly. She was a member of the New York State Assembly in 1975 and 1976. In 1976 she ran for re-nomination, but was challenged by six contenders in the Democratic primary,[2] and was defeated by Edward C. Sullivan.

Afterwards Runyon remained active in tenants' affairs, and was Executive Director of the Harlem Restoration Project Inc.[3] In 2002, after forty years of resistance, Runyon and Columbia University agreed to end a court battle which started in 1961 when the university tried to evict Runyon from her apartment, and Runyon was not only permitted to stay, but the building was named "Marie Runyon Court".[4] She is active in the Granny Peace Brigade.[5] Runyon played cameo roles in the 2004 movie The Manchurian Candidate as the mother of Robert Arthur, and as a wedding guest in the 2008 movie Rachel Getting Married.[6] On March 20, 2015 she celebrated her 100th birthday.[7][8]


  1. ^ Nicholas Kulish (April 3, 1996). "SPECTATOR PERSPECTIVES 'We shall not be removed' Community activist Marie Runyon is still fighting". Columbia Daily Spectator. 
  2. ^ Mrs. Runyon Faces Six Challengers In 70th Assembly District Primary in the New York Times on August 27, 1976 (subscription required)
  3. ^ Tenant Managers,, July 17, 1988.
  4. ^ Tenant Rebel Accepts Peace And an Honor in the New York Times on December 6, 2002
  5. ^ Grannies Go to Washington,; accessed October 5, 2015.
  6. ^ Marie Runyon on IMDb
  7. ^ Bobby Cuza. Former Assemblywoman, Housing Advocate Marie Runyon Turning 100,, March 13, 2015
  8. ^ Spring 2015, Morningsider, March 24, 2015.
New York Assembly
Preceded by
Jesse Gray
New York State Assembly
70th District

Succeeded by
Edward C. Sullivan