On Saturday, March 17, The Town of North Hempstead hosted a street naming ceremony to honor longtime Roslyn Heights resident Dr. Hazel N. Dukes on the occasion of her 91st birthday.
Joining Dukes was North Hempstead Council Member Robert Troiano, Jr., and Nassau County Legislator Siela Bynoe. The ceremony took place outside the Roslyn Gardens apartment complex.
Dukes is currently New York State National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) conference president. She was a past national president of that organization.
A native of Montgomery, AL, Dukes attended Alabama State Teachers College before relocating to New York with her parents. On Long Island, Dukes attended Nassau Community College, majoring in Business Administration. She eventually worked for the federal Head Start housing program. In 1996, she began working for the Nassau County Attorney’s office. As the 1970s progressed, Dukes worked as a community organizer for the Nassau County Economic Opportunity Commission (EOC), while eventually earning a bachelor’s degree from Adelphi University. Following her tenure as NAACP national president, Dukes, in 1990, was appointed president of the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation (NYCOTB).
Other honors that Dukes has been recognized for include a Candace Award for Community Service from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women in 1990, an Economic and Business Award from the Women’s Black Agenda, and the Empire State and Nation Builder Award by the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators. In 2019, a plaque honoring Dukes was placed on 137th Street and Adam Clayton Boulevard in Harlem, by the Migdol Organization.
Dukes’ career has not been without controversy. In 1997, she pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny, stemming from an incident when she was manager of the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation (NYCOTB).
March 17, however, was a day to celebrate Dukes’ years of public service.
“Congratulations to Dr. Hazel N. Dukes on the street renaming in her honor this past weekend in Roslyn. A black woman who defied the odds and through her faith, hard work, fearless nature, passion and commitment to equality and justice has lived a life full of purpose. As a result she has positively impacted the lives of countless people across this country. We thank God for Dr. Dukes and pray that those of us who love and admire her use her life as an inspiration to continue the fight that she has given her life to improve society for the betterment of others,” said Karen Boykin-Towns, Vice Chair, NAACP Board of Directors
“Dr. Hazel Dukes is a distinguished trailblazer, a remarkable woman, and a source of inspiration for us all. Her unwavering support was pivotal in my first mayoral campaign, where I had the honor of becoming Long Island’s first African American Mayor. I consider her a genuine and cherished friend. Dr. Dukes has dedicated her life to championing civil and human rights causes. Her advocacy stretches back decades, and she has been a steadfast supporter of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and numerous other leaders. Her leadership of the New York State NAACP and her resolute support of local organizations in Long Island stand as testament to her remarkable impact. Today, we pay tribute to Dr. Dukes by renaming a street in her honor. This momentous occasion serves as a reminder of the profound impact she has made as an American, educator, and religious leader,” said James A. Garner, Former Mayor of Village of Hempstead.
—Information courtesy of the Town of North Hempstead and Wikipedia