Alelia Murphy has lived to see 114 birthdays, but this year’s celebration may top them all.
To honor the oldest living person in the United States, officials in Harlem, New York, threw her a neighborhood-wide birthday bash on Friday with a unique gift: From now on, the community will recognize July 6, her birthday, as “Alelia Murphy Appreciation Day.”
State Sen. Brian Benjamin presented Murphy with a framed poster and a copy of the declaration. During his remarks, Benjamin called Murphy a “Harlem landmark” and thanked her for her contributions to the community.
Born in North Carolina in 1905, the supercentenarian – someone who’s at least 110 – has called Harlem home since 1926, when she moved to the Manhattan borough during the peak of its cultural renaissance. Years of involvement with community organizations and the church made her a local icon.
She was widowed in 1953 and supported her two children as a seamstress for most of her life.
“She is the glue that holds this family together,” her granddaughter Nefer Nekhet told CNN affiliate WPIX.
Murphy, wearing a yellow dress and crown, greeted partygoers from her wheelchair at the celebration hosted by the African American Caucus of 1199SEIU, a union of healthcare workers. She didn’t speak at the event, but her family said she credits her longevity to God and “being a good person.”
Murphy’s daughter Rose Green said she considers her mother her best friend and sees her daily. As far as the family knows, she doesn’t have any illnesses or ailments.
“I’m so proud of her and so glad to have her as long as I have,” Green said.
The Gerontology Research Group verified Murphy’s age. She trails the oldest person in the world, Kane Tanaka of Japan, by two years and 185 days.