New York State NAACP president Hazel Dukes, 90, was honored...

New York State NAACP president Hazel Dukes, 90, was honored at an NAACP Founders Day celebration at Westbury Middle School on Sunday. Credit: Howard Simmons

Local leaders and community members gathered Sunday at Westbury Middle School to celebrate the 114th anniversary of the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, while also honoring a trailblazer.

The Founders Day celebration for the civil rights organization was led by Westbury Superintendent of Schools Tahira A. DuPree Chase.

“The NAACP has served the underrepresented, the voiceless, the underserved, the marginalized . . . for the past 114 years,” DuPree Chase said at the event. “It is the oldest and the largest civil rights and social justice organization for all and I am proud to be a member.”

The event featured music and history, and honored local leaders.

Irene Betty Hylton, president emeritus of the Westbury/New Cassel NAACP branch, spoke about reviving the chapter in the late 2000s after it was inactive for many years due to a lack of leadership. The chapter was originally created in the mid-1960s.

“It takes more than one person to make an organization work,” she said. “Schools, businesses and even volunteer organizations need people to get the job done.”

Lifelong member Carol Gardiner, who was part of the effort to revive the chapter, highlighted some of the organization’s initiatives, including voter registration drives, school board candidate forums, domestic violence forums and academic programs.

The special guest of the event was New York State NAACP president and civil rights leader Hazel Dukes, 90, of Manhattan and formerly of Roslyn Heights.

“As you all know, you sit at the feet of you elders and that is where you learn,” Westbury/New Cassel NAACP branch president Robin L. Garrison Bolling said during her conversation with Dukes. 

Dukes spoke about her struggles growing up in Montgomery, Alabama, while also touching on education as one of her top priorities for the future.

She said she has been working to obtain more funding for local schools including in Hempstead and stressed that Hempstead students should receive the same funding and services as charter schools, which could receive more funding under Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed $227 billion state budget.

“I sit today here in Westbury, where I spent 32 years … knocking down segregation and discrimination,” Dukes said while on stage. “It’s not all done, we’ve come a mighty long way, but we can’t get complacent.”

She called for the creation of more youth and collegiate branches, while calling on individuals to give back to their communities.

“You can sleep well at night when you give the best to the kids, try to help the children, try to make sure our seniors are covered because they’ve given so much,” she said.

Dukes will be honored again with a ceremonial street renaming in Roslyn on March 18.

The NAACP was founded on Feb. 12, 1909, following a deadly race riot that rocked the city of Springfield, Illinois, a year prior. The organization currently has more than 2,200 units across the nation, according to the organization’s site, which includes the Westbury/New Cassel NAACP branch.

Pastor allegedly abused kids . . . Antisemitism charges . . . New animals at game farm Credit: Newsday

What to expect at RNC tonight . . . Alleged DWI driver in court . . . Explaining Nassau transgender athlete ban . . . New animals at game farm

Pastor allegedly abused kids . . . Antisemitism charges . . . New animals at game farm Credit: Newsday

What to expect at RNC tonight . . . Alleged DWI driver in court . . . Explaining Nassau transgender athlete ban . . . New animals at game farm

Latest videos

YOU'VE BEEN SELECTED

FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.