QUEENS, NY - Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown celebrated Black History Month today by presenting Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall with the 10th annual William Tucker Garvin Public Service Award.
The William Tucker Garvin Public Service Award was established in 2001 when District Attorney Brown held a ceremony to honor the memory of Mr. Garvin, the first African-American Assistant District Attorney appointed in Queens County. Since then, the award has been presented annually during Black History Month to an individual of African-American heritage in recognition of his or her notable contributions to public service.
“William Tucker Garvin was an individual man whose accomplishments are to be regarded as exemplary in any time, in any season,” said District Attorney Brown. “His level of commitment to excellence and to the service of others parallels the lives of countless leaders in the African-American community, including Martin Luther King, Booker T. Washington, Roy Wilkins, Ralph Bunche and so many others.”
District Attorney Brown continued, “The dedication, perseverance and integrity that Bill Garvin brought to his job each day paved the way for future African-Americans and is reflected in the long and distinguished career of this year’s honoree – Borough President Helen M. Marshall – whose own leadership and sense of public service has motivated and inspired many, just like Bill Garvin.”
As the 18th Borough President of Queens County, Helen Marshall is the second woman and first African American to hold the position. During her three terms as Borough President, Ms. Marshall has used her office to accomplish progressive changes, including the creation of the Commercial Corridor Program, which improves commercial strips with landscaping and increased lighting, and the re-zoning of more than two dozen neighborhoods in order to protect them from over-development. Ms. Marshall has also helped to fund the expansion of cultural institutions across the borough, provided funding to improve neighborhood parks and playgrounds, and successfully restored millions of dollars in funding for services to senior citizens. The Borough President’s “War Room” meetings with education officials have also helped to ensure the timely construction of 30 new schools with more than 17,800 seats.
Ms. Marshall began her political career in the New York State Assembly where, beginning in 1982, she served five terms and chaired the Rules Committee and served on the Leland Commission. Afterwards, she was elected to the New York City Council, representing the 21st District. Ms. Marshall was the founding Chair of the Higher Education Committee and fought against the privatization of remedial programs of CUNY. While a member of the City Council, Ms. Marshall supported the expansions and upgrades of every library in her district, restored funding to rebuild a free children’s dental clinic in Corona, led the fight to prevent the sale of Elmhurst and the Queens Hospital Center and provided funding for two new senior centers and for vans to transport seniors.
Prior to joining the Assembly, Ms. Marshall was an early childhood teacher for eight years. She left the teaching profession in 1969 to become the first Director of the Langston Hughes Library, a position she held for five years. She was also Director of the EMCOR Testing Assessment and Placement Program for eight years, placing hundreds of residents in meaningful employment positions.
A native New Yorker, Ms. Marshall is a graduate of Queens College where she majored in Education. She is also a recipient of the statewide Daniel Casey Library Advocacy Award, as well as a recipient of the President’s Medal from Hunter College, LaGuardia Community College and St. John’s University. Ms. Marshall has also received an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Science from the College of Aeronautics.
The Garvin Award was presented at a reception in the District Attorney’s third-floor conference room at his office in Kew Gardens and attended by numerous judges, public officials and assistant district attorneys.
William Tucker Garvin was born on November 28, 1898, in South Carolina. Upon graduating from Orangeburg State College in South Carolina, Mr. Garvin moved to Manhattan where he worked in the post office while attending law school. He graduated from St. John’s University Law School in 1931 as one of two of the first African-American graduates from the Law School. He went on to establish a civil practice in Harlem and later moved to Queens where in 1943 he was appointed by the Queens Borough President to serve on local School Board 50 – the first African-American to hold that position. Mr. Garvin was appointed as an Assistant District Attorney on January 1, 1952, and he retired after a distinguished career in July 1966, one month prior to his death. He is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens.
Previous recipients of the Garvin Award have included former New York City Mayor David M. Dinkins, U.S. Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, former Queens Administrative Judge Leslie G. Leach, United States Attorney General Eric H. Holder, New York State Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives Juanita Bing Newton, Governor David Paterson, New York State Senator Malcolm A. Smith and Deputy Mayor Dennis M. Walcott.