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Photo courtesy of Queens Borough President's office
Photo courtesy of Queens Borough President's office

The memory of former Borough President Helen Marshall lives on in East Elmhurst as a street in her former neighborhood now bears her name.

On Dec. 10, more than 100 community members, state and federal elected officials braved the cold and unveiled a new street sign at the corner of 103rd Street and Northern Boulevard, now named “Helen M. Marshall Boulevard,” during a ceremony that honored all of Marshall’s achievements.

“I’ll always be grateful to Helen, whom I always considered a friend and a mentor. She was the first person to introduce me to politics when I was just 14 years old,” said Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who organized the ceremony with Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry and the Marshall family. “Now as I’m close to my retirement from politics, I’m very happy to be able to do this last act to honor Helen’s legacy. From now on, when someone walks by this street, they will remember Helen and the great work she did for our community.”

File photo

File photo

Marshall, who died on March 4, made history by becoming the first African-American Queens borough president in 2002. Prior to this, Marshall served in the State Assembly for eight years and in the City Council for 10.

Born in the Bronx, Marshall graduated from CUNY Queens College and worked as an early childhood education teacher for eight years. In 1969, she left teaching to become one of the founders and the first director of the Langston Hughes Library & Cultural Center.

The original location of the center sits on the newly named Helen M. Marshall Boulevard.

Marshall was also active in Elmcor Youth & Adult Activities Inc. and the Queens County Economic Development Corporation.

“Helen Marshall was a larger-than-life figure in the civic life of Queens, the city and state of New York.  During her decades in public life, Mrs. Marshall fought tenaciously to improve our children’s schools, to address seemingly intractable quality-of-life issues and to secure a fair share of city resources for Queens,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “As the first African-American borough president of Queens and only the second woman to be elected to the position, Helen Marshall was a trailblazer who inspired many to pursue public service.”

It’s the second public tribute to Marshall’s legacy. Last year, an atrium at Queens Borough Hall was also renamed in her honor.

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