Street renamed for civil rights, health profession advocate

Street renamed for civil rights, health profession advocate
Photo by Laura Stone

Bronxites honored an unsung hero who fought for civil rights and injustices in communities nationwide.

Dozens of educators and members of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East joined Councilman Andy King and 1199 SEIU president George Gresham on Sunday, July 1 for a street co-naming ceremony honoring Gresham’s late wife.

The northwest corner of East 233rd Street and Murdock Avenue was renamed ‘Sandy E. Gresham Way’ for the beloved educator and community and health advocate.

“Sandy Gresham will be one of those beacons when Adaya walks around and says ‘that’s my grandma,’ she can tell the story to her children why the street was renamed after a wonderful New Yorker,” stated King.

The heartwarming ceremony occurred on what would have been Sandy and George’s 39th wedding anniversary.

Mayor de Blasio, Congressman Eliot Engel, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Deputy Borough President Marricka Scott-McFadden, Public Advocate Letitia James; senators Jamaal Bailey and Luis Sepulveda, Assemblyman Michael Blake, Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson and representatives for Governor Cuomo and the 47th Precinct were in attendance.

Sandy was born to parents James Beckford and Levine Goldburn in Middlesex County, England on October 7, 1958.

Throughout her lifetime, Sandy dedicated herself to defending civil rights and speaking out against injustices in communities throughout the United States by partnering with 1199 SEIU and her husband.

Together they fought endlessly to protect healthcare workers across the nation.

Founded in 1932, 1199 SEIU represents the healthcare professions in Massachusetts; New Jersey; Washington, D.C.; Florida and NYC’s five boroughs and its suburbs.

The union represents over 250,000 workers in the region and 100,000 additional members employed in nursing homes and home care settings.

According to King, the Edenwald resident instilled in her students a lifetime of love and learning and determination to thrive in society as adults.

“Sandy Gresham was a person who came along not only shaping her family and relationship with her husband, but also shaping our community and ultimately our nation,” expressed Rev. Franklyn Richardson, Grace Baptist Church senior pastor.

After being introduced by his granddaughter Adaya Hewitt, George thanked everyone for their support and reflected on the day’s significance.

Coincidently their wedding was held on a Sunday, he noted.

Last year, Sandy was in a four-day coma at Montefiore Hospital.

George and his family were on their way to visit Sandy for their wedding anniversary when he received a phone call from the hospital.

“Sandy had come out of the coma on our wedding anniversary and the doctor said that she had never seen anything like that; it was like she had never been under,” George shared. “That was our 38th wedding anniversary and it was the best wedding anniversary I’d ever had.”

Sandy passed away on September 16, 2017 at 58-years-old.

She is survived by her husband George; their children Siana Gresham, Brittny Bekoe-Tabiri and James Rakim Gresham; granddaughter Adaya; her siblings Jennifer Morgan, Joseph Beckford, Leon Beckford, Angela Johnson and Sharon Nembhard and mother-in-law Lucy Gresham.