Jamaica Street Named After Civil Rights Activist

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on September 30, 2013 1:58pm 

 Street co-naming ceremony for Jefferson Diggs
Street co-naming ceremony for Jefferson Diggs
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Leroy Comrie's office

QUEENS — The life and work of a late Jamaica activist, who participated in sit-ins during the civil rights movement and later worked for local City Councilmembers, was memorialized during a street renaming ceremony this weekend.

The corner of 88th Avenue and 178th Street was named Jefferson Diggs Way, in memory of the activist who also worked as a reporter and who lived in Jamaica with his wife Sonia Geder for more than 40 years, according to Councilman Leroy Comrie.

“He was an intellectual who used his background as a journalist to bring a unique perspective to the issues being discussed, and explain what could be complicated matters, in ways someone hearing about them for the first time could understand,” said Comrie about Diggs, who had worked as a community liaison for his office. “He helped to improve the quality of life for many residents,” Comrie said.

Diggs, who died in 2010, at the age of 74, had also worked for Comrie's predecessor, Archie Spigner.

Diggs organized and participated in the first wave of student sit-ins at the Woolworth and Kress department store lunch counters in North Carolina, for which he was arrested.

After graduating from Winston-Salem State Teachers College, he moved to New York where he was one of the first African-American reporters hired by the NY Daily News.

He was also a member of Community Board 12 and the Jamaica Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

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