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WBWPC Honors Hazel Dukes at Albany Breakfast

ALBANY, NY -- April 10, 2022 -- Hazel N. Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference, was the guest of honor on Sunday, April 10th, at the Westchester Black Women’s Political Caucus’ 40th Annual Legislative Breakfast at the Hilton Albany in Downtown Albany, New York. Dr. Dukes was also celebrating her 90th birthday and was taken aback by the standing ovation of 200 guests who sang two separate renditions of “Happy Birthday,” and a large cake wishing her many more years of service and good health. The Reverend Dr. L’Judie Matt-Simmons served as the Breakfast Chair.

Here are remarks made by Sandra Blackwell:

Today we honor a woman of great strength and courage. An important civil rights activist for more than six decades, and a campaigner for over 50 years, Hazel Dukes is a leading figure in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and in New York politics. She served as the organization’s national president and is currently president of the NAACP New York State Conference.

Hazel Nell Dukes was born on March 17, 1932, in Montgomery, Alabama, the only child of Edward and Alice Dukes. She attended Alabama State Teachers College beginning in 1949.

She moved to New York City in 1955 and studied business administration at Nassau Community College while she worked at Macy’s.

Working in various social service agencies, she organized day care and schooling for poor children, and she coordinated transportation for people looking to go to college or find work.

Hazel worked in many government agencies that help low-income families. She became known in the 1960s as an outspoken campaigner on behalf of minority groups, especially through her work with the Nassau County Consumer Division and as a board member of the State of New York Mortgage Agency.

In 1966 she became the first black American to work for the Nassau County Attorney’s Office; she later worked for the Nassau County Economic Opportunity Commission as a community organizer. And in 1978, Hazel graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Adelphi University.

Hazel worked for the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation for 25 years and was appointed its president in 1990 by then-Mayor David Dinkins.

While working for the NAACP, she participated in many marches and while protesting, was arrested six times. She was president of the Great Neck, Manhasset, Port Washington, Roslyn chapter and national president of the organization from 1989 to 1992.

Hazel has put her political expertise to work for the Democratic party. She worked for President Lyndon Johnson’s Head Start program in the 1960s and was the first black vice-chair of the Nassau County Democratic Committee. She served on the party’s national committee from 1976 to 1982.

During the Reagan and Bush presidencies in the 1980s and 1990s, Hazel was an outspoken opponent of policies that she felt undermined the civil rights movements of the 1960s, which she views as unfinished business.

Her political career has made her one of the most important Black activists and campaigners of the last 65 years.

She has spearheaded several important campaigns, especially efforts to persuade a new generation to lead the NAACP.

Hazel received a Candace Award for Community Service from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women in 1990. In 2017, the Black Women’s Agenda presented her with its Economic and Business Award during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual conference. She was awarded the Empire State and Nation Builder Award by the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators. In 2019, a plaque honoring Dr. Dukes was placed on 137th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard in Harlem by the Migdol Organization.

Hazel received the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Social Action Award in 1976; the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs’ Sojurner Truth Award in 1977; the New York City Human Rights Commission Award for Outstanding Contribution to Social Justice in 1985; the Dollar and Sense magazine Salute to African-American Women in 1989; the B’nai B’rith Award for Promoting Justice and Interracial Harmony in 1990; and an honorary doctorate from the City University of New York Law School at Queens College in 1990.

As well as the NAACP, Dr. Dukes is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated; the Coalition of 100 Black Women board of directors; the State of New York Martin Luther King Jr. Commission board of directors; the State University of New York board of trustees; and the Democratic National Committee.

Dr. Dukes is STILL an active and dynamic leader known for her unselfish and devoted track record for improving the quality of life for ALL people in state of New York.

I ask all the members of the Westchester Black Women’s Political Caucus to stand as we honor and celebrate the 90th Birthday of the one and only DR. HAZEL N. DUKES!!!


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