Late community leader Amanda Clarke honored with Laurelton street renaming

The family of Amanda Clarke, a community activist in Laurelton, and City Councilman Donovan Richards honored her with a street renaming at the intersection of 137th Avenue and 227th Street.
Photo by Naeisha Rose
By Naeisha Rose

An intersection in Laurelton was shut down last week to be renamed after the late Amanda Clarke, a prominent community leader in southeast Queens and one-time City Council candidate who died in 2017.

Members of the 105th Precinct blocked off the road leading to 137th Avenue and 227th Street, the corner where her home was located, to christen a sign designating the spot as the Amanda Clarke Way Aug. 24 in front of friends, family, elected officials and community and religious leaders.
“Whenever I hear her name, I think of power,” said state Sen. James Sanders, the opponent she lost a City Council race to in 2001.

Even though Clarke, 78, ran against Sanders for the district seat to represent Laurelton, the current senator had nothing but respect for the community leader, educator and PTA president.

“I can’t say a single bad thing about Amanda and the way she ran her race,” said Sanders. “She was a gentle woman from the beginning to the end. She took a position and a strong one, she believed in principles and she moved on those principles. She moved in such a fashion that we became friends during an election.”

Sponsoring the street renaming was City Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton).

“It is befitting when you look across the street – Michael Clarke is there as well,” said Richards, mentioning Clarke’s son, a freelance cameraman and concert promoter who was murdered in November 2002.

After her son went missing and police were unable to find him, Clarke searched for her 28-year-old child by going around the neighborhood and dialing his beeper until she discovered him the trunk of his car, according to former Officer Sugar Wright of the 113th Precinct.

“As she told me the story about her son, I in turn told my sergeant we had to do something,” said Wright about helping to arrange a street renaming of Clarke’s son in 2009, which is on the same intersection as the late community activist.

“She did everything in her power to stem violence and help people in her community,” said Richards. “We know that Amanda embodied what this community is – that is a fighter.”

Speaking on behalf of the family throughout the ceremony was Derek Clarke, the honoree’s youngest child and the father of her five grandchildren.

“I’m honoring her and giving back to her, because of her legacy and what she stood for in this community, what she fought for in the community – she was just so big,” said her son. “I am so proud of my mother and to represent her.”

Also at the ceremony was her husband of 52 years, Donald Clarke, Sr., who spoke of her accomplishments, which included being a teacher at IS 231 in Laurelton and Springfield Gardens High School, her work in politics and civics.

“She served for over 40 years in the New York public school system, not only as a teacher, but in various extra curricular and tutorial programs,” he said. “She served as a Democratic body district leader.”

Clarke was also a member of the Federated Blocks of Laurelton.

“She just loved that organization and she wanted to be a part of it because it was the underbedding of this community,” said her husband. “It is the foundation of this community and she wanted to be a part of that foundation.”

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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