Hazel Nell Dukes
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Hazel Nell Dukes (born 1932) is a Civil Rights activist, and past national president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Hazel Nell Dukes was born on March 17, 1932, in Montgomery, Alabama. Her parents were Edward and Alice Dukes, and she was an only child. She enrolled at Alabama State Teachers College in 1949 hoping to become a teacher; however, she moved to New York City with her parents in 1955 where she started school at Nassau Community College and majored in Business Administration. She worked for President LBJ's "Head Start" program in the 1960s. And in 1966, she gained a position at the Nassau County Attorney's Office, becoming the first black American to do so. She eventually worked as a community organizer for the Nassau County Economic Opportunity Commission (EOC) where she taught children that were living in poverty. Dukes graduated from Adelphi University in 1978 with a bachelor's degree. She remained outspoken consistently throughout the Reagan and Bush presidencies during the 1980s and some of the 1990s. Dukes' main concerns were education reform and more advancement in civil rights. From 1989 to 1992, Hazel Nell Dukes served as the national president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Dukes was also made president of the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation (NYCOTB) in 1990, twenty-five years after she had been doing social work there. Dukes' commitment to equality for humans led her to become one of the most significant black activists of the latter half of the twentieth century. She received a Candace Award for Community Service from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women in 1990.
Criticism and controversy
Hazel Nell Dukes was forced to leave her position in the NAACP after an immigration debate. In 1994, she quit working for the NYCOTB after New York major Rudy Giuliani publicly condemned the corporation for losing money on a regular basis. In 1997, she was convicted in criminal court after a plea bargain to attempted grand larceny, her admission was that she stole $13,000.00 from a disabled NYCOTB worker who had been giving Dukes checks to cash for her while she was a manager of that organization. She received many accusations of foul play in the NAACP presidential election of 1999 for the New York City Branch, but was still victorious in the election. She is still revered as a leading figure in the black community of New York City.