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Gloria Black mourned in SE Queens

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Black, who was 76, died March 1 while recuperating from surgery at the Margaret Tietz Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Jamaica.Close friends said Black, a deaconess at Amity Baptist, stayed strong and kept her mind on the Jamaica community even when she was ailing."When I went to see her she was still talking about leaving the hospital and continuing her journey. She left the world thinking how she could help people," said Kenneth Black, Black's cousin.Black was born in South Carolina on Jan. 29, 1932, and was raised in North Carolina. Education and knowledge were her primary passion, according to her family, and she went on to earn numerous degrees, including a master's in American history from New York University and a doctorate in philosophy from the New School for Social Research in Manhattan.Following her studies, Black served as a teacher at numerous Queens and Long Island middle and high schools, changing the lives of hundreds of inner-city students, according to her close confidants."She truly cared about teaching and she truly cared about helping people," said City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who attended the services with fellow southeast Queens leaders City Councilman Tom White (D-Jamaica) and U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica), among others.Outside of her role as a teacher, Dr. Black also gave back to the community in other ways after she moved to Brooklyn in the 1950s. After settling down in St. Albans with her husband and two daughters, she gave her time to several area organizations and services, including York College, where she served on the school's community advisory board."She emphasized the need to energize, to mobilize and to unify her fellow man to improve their lives," said friend Laura Moore.Black also worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights era and marched with him on several protests. Most dear to Black was her longtime commitment to Alpha Kappa Alpha, a 100 year-old black sorority that5's dedicated to community service and empowerment.Before the service began, nearly 50 of her sorority sisters, all dressed in white, lined up in front of her opened casket and paid their last respects one by one."I come to the family, Lord God, with a prayer of comfort," said sorority sister Angela Kelly.More than 20 years ago, Black joined CB 12, which oversees Jamaica, Springfield Gardens, St. Albans, Baisley Park, Rochdale Village and South Jamaica, and immediately made her presence known. Even if she disagreed with board members on issues like rezoning or approval of new facilities, she always kept her ears open, according to Supreme Court Judge Valerie Brathwaite Nelson, a former board member. "Her intellect made her able to take complicated issues and decide what was best for the community," she said. "Even if Dr. Black did not agree with your position... she was gracious and would discuss why she did not agree with you."In 2004, Black was formally elected to serve as CB 12's chairwoman and led the board until her death. Acting Chairwoman Adjoa Esinam Gzifa held back tears as she reminisced about her mentor."Her commitment to this community is showing. Just look at all the people who came today," she said, referring to the packed congregation. Black, who is survived by two grandsons in addition to her daughters, was buried at Calverton National Cemetery in Calverton, L.I.Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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