By Courtney Dentch
Guy R. Brewer Boulevard, one of the main thoroughfares cutting through southeast Queens, bears the name of one of the most influential black politicians to come from the borough and the first black majority whip in the state Legislature.
The four-mile stretch of road connecting downtown Jamaica and York College to Kennedy Airport was named for Brewer in 1982 to commemorate the life of the five-term assemblyman from Jamaica.
“He was a very talented individual,” said former Democratic Councilman Archie Spigner from southeast Queens, who lists Brewer among his mentors. “He was a great speaker. He focused on what he wanted done and how to get it done.”
Brewer, a Democrat, represented southeast Queens in the Assembly from 1969 to 1977 and served as the state’s first black majority whip for several years, Spigner said. Brewer also founded the Guy R. Brewer Democratic Club, which has grown to become one of the most powerful political clubs in the borough.
Brewer moved to Jamaica from Manhattan in the early 1940s with the intention of creating a black suburban community outside the heart of the city. Fittingly enough, the street that bears his name runs through residential communities that have become largely black neighborhoods.
In 1982, the City Council voted in favor of a bill to name New York Boulevard after Guy R. Brewer, a proposal that Spigner sponsored and then-Mayor Ed Koch signed.
Under Brewer’s tutelage Spigner, a civic and labor leader before turning to politics, took to elected office, becoming the first black councilman to represent a Queens district.
“He was my mentor in terms of my political involvement,” Spigner said. “I owe him a debt of gratitude for the encouragement and support he gave me in my political career.”