A Harlem woman is celebrating her birthday this week by becoming the oldest person in America.
Alelia Murphy reached her 114th year of life surrounded by family and friends at her birthday party in Harlem, New York, Friday.
Murphy’s granddaughter said she has plenty of wisdom to offer her family. “We ask her Grandma, you been here for a very long time and she said I’m here because you all don’t know how to live, I’m here to teach you all how to live and things to do!”
The 114-year-old has certainly seen a lot during her life. Murphy was born in North Carolina in 1905 during Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency and in 1926, moved to New York, where she married. In 1953, her husband died, and she became a single mother to two children. Murphy then began working as a seamstress and salesperson to support her family.
State Sen. Brian Benjamin attended the party Friday with a special gift for Murphy. He declared her birthday, July 6, “Alelia Murphy Appreciation Day” for all of Harlem.
“She was part of the movement of African Americans to Harlem… Lived in Harlem through it all, through the good and the bad,” Benjamin told reporters.
Murphy is currently the eighth-oldest person in the world, right behind five Japanese women and two French.
The grandmother says her secret to a long life and excellent health are a good diet and an active lifestyle.
“She grew up in the South in the days before processed food, so she ate very healthy,” said Murphy’s nurse, Natalia Mhlambiso. “Keeping active when you are younger, and eating healthy and continuing to do so — it really does help a lot.”
Murphy added that trusting in God and being a good person can also help people live a long and happy life.
“She’s still here, she’s still strong, and she holds our family together,” her daughter Rose Adams said.