Helen Marshall, 1929-2017

Helen Marshall, who was the first African American and second woman to be the Queens borough president, died last weekend at age 87 following decades of service to the borough.

Marshall was a teacher, library director, Democratic district leader, state assemblywoman, City Council member and borough president for three terms.

She was a tireless advocate for Queens’ schools, parks, libraries, transportation, arts and culture and designation as a tourist spot who also championed the borough’s diversity by creating the Queens General Assembly, which draws delegates from the borough’s 14 community boards. And as the child of a Guyanese mother and Barbadian father, Marshall understood the immigrant experience and recognized Queens as the world’s borough.

For four and a half decades, Marshall gave back to the community that she called home, which is why her colleagues remember her as a “trailblazer.” Her legacy will long be felt in Queens and her presence sorely missed.

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