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Blackwell, Lucien E. (1931- )

Lucien E. Blackwell, U.S. Congressman and labor official, was born in Whitset, Pennsylvania.  He attended West Philadelphia High School, but left before obtaining his diploma.  Blackwell also served in the United States Armed Forces during the Korean War, and received the National Defense Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, a Meritorious Unit Commendation, and the Good Conduct Medal.  

Lucien Blackwell lacked formal higher education, but he persevered through the “school of hard knocks.”  He first found employment working on the waterfront of Philadelphia.  Beginning as an unskilled laborer, he gradually moved up to foreman, and then vice president, business agent and eventually, in 1973, president of Local 1332, International Longshoreman’s Association of the AFL-CIO.  Blackwell served in this capacity until 1991.  Blackwell also served as Chairman of the Philadelphia Gas Commission.  He made history by rejecting three requests by the Philadelphia Gas Works to increase gas rates.  These rejections prompted Philadelphia Gas to reorganize and reduce its management operations for the first time in the history of the Philadelphia utility.

In 1972 Blackwell was elected to the Pennsylvania Legislature.  During his term as a state representative (1973-1975), he sponsored Resolution 67 aimed at controlling the gang problem infesting Philadelphia.  The resolution brought a legislative panel to Philadelphia to investigate the city’s gang wars and led to the creation of the Crisis Intervention Network, which received nationwide acclaim for its anti-crime and anti-gang programs.  

Blackwell left the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1975 to begin his sixteen-year tenure as a member of Philadelphia’s City Council.  As a city councilman he led a campaign against graffiti by allowing the best of the young artists to paint murals on walls throughout the city.  He unsuccessfully fought the closing of the Philadelphia General Hospital, and initiated a $50 million program for the homeless which was the first in