New York Celebrates Longtime Civil Rights Activist With Launch Of University Fellowship Named In Her Honor

AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool)

Special honors are being bestowed on a long-time civil rights activist in New York. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the Dr. Hazel Dukes Fellowship and Black Leadership Institute (BLI) at The State University of New York (SUNY).

Dukes, 91, is president of the NAACP New York State Conference and has fought housing discrimination for decades. According to CBS News, The Dr. Hazel Dukes Fellowship is designed to identify and nurture current and emerging leaders who share her passion for advancing civil rights.

Each year, the new SUNY fellowship will be awarded to a student who embodies the values that have defined Duke’s career and life.

“It’s just a legacy that I don’t think I could…ask for anything more important than this. And I hope to meet the first cohort of Hazel Dukes fellows in March,” Dukes said.

Gov. Hochul announced the fellowship Sunday during the annual conference of the New York State Association of Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislators in Albany on Sunday.

“For her entire career, Dr. Hazel Dukes has been an unrelenting force in the fight for civil rights and equality in New York State,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a written statement according to Long Island Business News. “Through this fellowship and portrait, we are honoring the legacy of Dr. Dukes and ensuring her critical work is enshrined for generations to come,” she added. 

Dukes’ “work began with fighting housing discrimination in Nassau County six decades ago, continued with her efforts under President Lyndon Johnson to establish and grow Head Start and is perhaps most notable for her leadership of the NAACP,” SUNY Chancellor John King, Jr., said in a written statement. “Honoring a BLI fellow with this award extends this great tradition of leadership and service.”

The Black Leadership Institute will begin in March. And each year, the institute will “honor one exceptional student every cycle as a Dr. Hazel Dukes Fellow who embodies the values, accomplishments, passion, clear thinking, and dedication to the cause of diversity, equity, and justice” that define Dukes’ work, according to a news release.

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