A community organizer and tenant activist by background who grew up in a NYCHA development in our community, Eddie Gibbs never forgot where he came from.
Born and raised in East Harlem, Assemblymember Eddie Gibbs has spent the past 30 years working as a community organizer and activist. On January 18, 2022, Eddie won the special election for New York’s 68th Assembly District, making history as the first formerly incarcerated individual elected to the New York State Legislature, and only the second to serve in any U.S. state legislature.
One of four siblings born into poverty and raised by a single mother, Eddie grew up in the same NYCHA development where his mother still lives today. At the age of 17, Gibbs was violently attacked when he unintentionally took another man’s life in an act of self-defense. Eddie then immediately turned himself in at his local police precinct. He spent 17 months on Rikers Island awaiting trial when – at the urging of his public defender – he accepted a plea deal to spend an additional three years in prison. Eddie then spent the balance of his time at the Elmira, Cayuga, and Mid-State correctional facilities.
While incarcerated, Eddie earned his GED and an Associate’s degree in Business Administration from Cayuga Community College. Eddie credits the education he received with helping him rebuild his life upon release.
Soon after he returned to his community from prison in 1991, Eddie encountered numerous obstacles to entering the traditional workforce with a felony on his record. Motivated by his love of making people laugh, he enrolled in comedy and acting classes while cooperating with STRIVE, a job training and career development service, in an effort to stay busy and grounded in his humanity. Eddie performed stand-up under the name Good Buddy, hoping to offset the notion that people should be afraid of someone convicted of a violent felony. He also became involved in his NYCHA Tenants Association and Youth Patrol.
At the same time, Eddie worked as a driver for celebrity criminal defense attorney Murray Richman, who encouraged him to get more involved in local politics. Soon after, Eddie began his career working as a political organizer in his community for federal, state, and local Democratic campaigns.
In 2018, he founded the East Harlem Democratic Club, where he previously served as President. He is also the founder of Making At-Risk Children Happy (M.A.R.C.H.) and Harlem Clergy United for Change (HCUC). In 2017, Eddie was elected as Democratic District Leader in East Harlem, a volunteer role. He was re-elected District Leader in 2019 and 2021.
A community organizer at heart, Eddie is recognized for his volunteer work in East Harlem. Long before holding public office, he has been an active presence in his community for over 30 years, organizing annual coat drives for seniors and people experiencing homelessness, Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas toy giveaways, back-to-school supply drives for underprivileged kids, and numerous other community events. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Eddie cared for vulnerable seniors and distributed food, water, and PPE.
Eddie brings a critical perspective to Albany, and he is grounded in the belief that everyone deserves a fair shot. He believes that no child or individual should bear the financial burdens or violence from their community.
Eddie is the proud father of Edward Jr., Donovan, and the late Ariel Gibbs. He has four grandchildren named Dezire, Myian, Ian, and Kaiden.