With Dr. Hazel Dukes fellowship, new SUNY institute to foster emerging leaders


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The State University of New York has launched the Black Leadership Institute (BLI), and the Dr. Hazel Dukes fellowship. The initiative is aimed at identifying and fostering current and emerging leaders who share Duke’s passion in advancing civil rights.

A former resident of Roslyn Heights, Dukes is president of the NAACP New York State Conference, who has long advocated for civil rights and equality. She had also served as a member of the SUNY Board of Trustees.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the fellowship Sunday at the annual conference of the New York State Association of Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislators in Albany. There, she also announced that the next SUNY portrait competition, to be launched this fall, will be held in honor of Dukes. The winning portrait will be displayed in the H. Carl McCall SUNY building in Albany.

“For her entire career, Dr. Hazel Dukes has been an unrelenting force in the fight for civil rights and equality in New York State,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a written statement. “Through this fellowship and portrait, we are honoring the legacy of Dr. Dukes and ensuring her critical work is enshrined for generations to come.”

Duke’s “work began with fighting housing discrimination in Nassau County six decades ago, continued with her efforts under President Lyndon Johnson to establish and grow Head Start, and is perhaps most notable for her leadership of the NAACP,” SUNY Chancellor John King, Jr., said in a written statement. “Honoring a BLI fellow with this award extends this great tradition of leadership and service.”

The Black Leadership Institute will begin in March. And each year, the institute will “honor one exceptional student every cycle as a Dr. Hazel Dukes Fellow who embodies the values, accomplishments, passion, clear thinking, and dedication to the cause of diversity, equity and justice” that define Dukes’ work, according to a news release.

“I was proud to push for the creation of a Black Leadership Institute to support professional growth and leadership development for people of color within the SUNY system,” Assemblymember Kimberly Jean-Pierre said in a written statement.

Dukes, Jean-Pierre added, “is a dynamic leader who has been a tireless advocate for equity and justice in New York State and across the country. It is very fitting to name a fellowship in her honor and my expectation is that fellows who follow in Dr. Dukes footsteps will continue the fight to improve diversity.”

Assemblymember Michaelle Solages chairs the state’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus said that the “fellowship and portrait, honoring her legacy, ensure that her transformative contributions will continue to inspire future generations. It is imperative that we honor our civil rights heroes in the present, ensuring their invaluable work is not only celebrated but also preserved for posterity.”

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