Written by on March 6, 2017

A historic Caribbean American New York politician has passed away.

Helen Marshall, the first Black president of Queens Borough New York, passed away Saturday March 4, at her home in Palm Desert, California, succumbing to an extended illness.

Born in the Bronx to Guyanese immigrants, Helen Marshall began her 40 year political career in East Elmhurst, Queens, as a teacher and community activist. She gained recognition and support after fighting for economic development and job training in her neighborhood.

Marshall helped create the Langston Hughes Library and Cultural Center in Corona Queens, and served 5 years as its first director. She was also very instrumental in helping turning famed Jazz musician – and her neighbor, Louie Armstrong’s home, into a museum.

As politician, Marshall served as Democratic district leader, NY State Assemblywoman, and Queens City Council member, before being elected Queens Borough President in 2001, becoming the 1st black person, 1st Caribbean-American, and only the 2nd woman to hold the office.

During her three terms in office, Marshall championed for improvements for local libraries and schools, Queens Tourism and new developments, and recognizing and honoring Queens cultural and icons.

In 2013, following the end of her final term, Marshall Retired and relocated to California. Last year, due to her extended illness, she was unable to attend a re-dedication ceremony for a new cultural center built at Queens Borough Hall renamed in her honor.

Married for more than 50 years, Helen Marshall was preceded in death by her husband, Donald – who died in January. They leave behind 2 children, Donald Jr. and Agnes Marie, and two grandchildren.

Helen Marshall was 87 years old.

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