A street co-naming was recently held to honor and commemorate the life of a late judge, founder and community activist.
On Saturday, June 13, Judge Hansel McGee was honored at a street co-naming ceremony at the corner of East 165th Street between Boston Road and Cauldwell Avenue.
At the ceremony, Judge McGee, who passed away in July 2002 at age 76, was honored for his tenure as the New York State Supreme Court Justice and co-founding of the Harriet Tubman Charter School.
McGee was born on June 13, 1926 in Miami, Flordia, before his family relocated to Harlem when he was an infant.
After his mother died and his father abandoned him, he spent time with various relatives before moving in with his sister in Morrisania in the 1940s.
Shortly after, he joined the US Navy, serving during World War II.
McGee graduated from City College in 1952 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry while working full-time as a research chemist at the Manhattan VA Hospital before he attended Polytechnic Institute and earning a Master’s of Science in Organic Chemistry in 1960.
While working as a research chemist at IBM’s Yorktown Heights, McGee began studying law at Brooklyn Law before being transferred to IBM’s Washington D.C. Patent Law Office so he could attend the George Washington University Law School at night. He graduated in 1966.
In 1981, McGee was elected as a judge to the New York Civil Court and began his term in 1982. A few years later, he was appointed and then elected as a New York State Supreme Court Justice and served in that role until 1996.
As a community activist, Judge McGee served as the board chairman of the South Bronx Neighborhood Centers and the founder and chairman of the Bronx Chapter of the African American Legal Defense and Education Fund, while playing active roles within countless Bronx organizations such as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolence.
As an advocate for children and their eduction, he was also responsible for co-founding the Harriet Tubman Charter School with Cliff Frazier, chair of the MLK Center for Nonviolence, in 2000. The school, approaching its 15th academic year, teaches students kindergarden through eighth grade.
“Children receiving an education was very important to my father – he wanted them to strive for a better life,” said daughter Elizabeth, who started the Hansel and Mildred McGee Foundation with family members and friends, a program that offers college scholarships to average Bronx high school seniors going to college. “He loved children, he loved people and he did everything that he could to help the community.”
“One of the most beautiful things about Judge McGee is that he loved the community and all of the people within it,” said Frazier. “The man was so easy to love.”
“The man was a very strong advocate for youth and he made it his mission to assist children and young students in the Bronx,” said Damyn Kelly, executive director of the South East Bronx Neighborhood Center, Inc., who worked with the judge when he was the chair of SEBNC in the late 1980s and early 90s. “This street co-naming was a reminder to everyone of how much he was involved in the community and how much he accomplished.”
The street co-naming ceremony was attended by Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Deputy Borough President Aurelia Greene and Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson, as well as assembly members and members of the McGee family.