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Hazel Dukes awarded Spingarn Medal, NAACP’s highest honor

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Hazel Dukes awarded Spingarn Medal, NAACP’s highest honor
Hazel Dukes PHOTO: COURTESY OF BERLIN ROSEN

Hazel N. Dukes, for decades a leading figure in the NAACP, will be awarded its highest honor at its national convention in Boston next month, the civil rights organization has announced.

As the latest recipient of the Spingarn Medal, Dukes, 91, will join a who’s who in African American history so honored. She has been president of the New York State Conference of branches for two decades and currently serves on the NAACP’s board of directors and its executive committee. She is also president of her own consulting firm.

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson called Dukes “a woman of profound strength and courage, who has served as an unwavering pillar in our community for more than fifty years.”

“Led by her fierce determination,” he added, “she has improved the lives of countless Black Americans and New Yorkers while bringing about lasting change that will be felt in the Black community for generations to come.”

The Spingarn Medal acknowledges the highest or noblest achievement by a living African American in any honorable field during the preceding year or years. Past recipients of an award established in 1914 by then-chair of the NAACP’s board, Joel E. Spingarn, include Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse L. Jackson, Rosa Parks, Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Jackie Robinson and George Washington Carver.

A native of Montgomery, Alabama, Dukes moved to New York in 1955. Besides her dedicated work for the NAACP, she has been a community organizer in Nassau County on Long Island, a member of the Democratic National Committee, a leader in The Links, Incorporated, and a member of the National Council of Negro Women. She also serves as president of her own consulting firm.

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton will present Dukes with the medal at the Spingarn Freedom Fund Awards Dinner during the NAACP’s 114th national convention in the Seaport.

“I have had the honor and privilege to work alongside her on the board of directors for many years and am continually awestruck by the strength of her convictions and dedication to our continued fight for civil rights,” said Leon W. Russell, chair of the NAACP Board of Directors. “It is only right that she is awarded the Spingarn Medal after her decades of service and visionary leadership.”

Hazel N. Dukes, local news, NAACP, Spingarn Medal