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‘A trailblazer in Queens and beyond’: Locals gather to honor the late Uma SenGupta at street co-naming ceremony in Briarwood

Oct. 17, 2023 By Rachel Butler

Council Member James F. Gennaro, Attorney General Letitia James, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, State Senators John Liu and Leroy Comrie, Assemblymember David Weprin and members of the SenGupta family gathered together for a street co-naming ceremony for Uma SenGupta on Monday, Oct. 16 as the intersection of 152nd Street and Union Turnpike in Briarwood was co-named “Uma SenGupta Way.”

Gennaro authored the City Council bill, which passed earlier this year, to co-name the street in SenGupta’s honor.

“Affectionately known as the ‘mother of the community,’ the late Mrs. Uma SenGupta was a pioneer for women, educators and underserved as well as emerging immigrant groups,” said Dr. Sumita SenGupta, educator and community leader. “Through the street sign, ‘Uma SenGupta Way,’ it is our hope that New Yorkers and visitors feel the warmth of a mother’s words of encouragement, inspiring them to continue in my mother’s legacy of community development, philanthropic service and progress for society.”

Uma SenGupta came to New York over 60 years ago with her husband — the late Suprabhat SenGupta — and three children to build a new life that actualized the American dream, as well as build a strong foundation for the Indian American community which espoused the great values of both India and America.

Uma SenGupta is known for founding a Montessori School that provided high quality early childhood education and ran in Flushing for over 38 years. 

“Uma SenGupta was well known for her activism and decades of community service. She was a trailblazer in the political scene here in Queens and beyond,” said Gennaro. “It is my hope that anytime someone comes down 152nd Street and Union Turnpike, they are reminded of the great legacy she leaves behind. It is an honor to be here today, alongside Uma SenGupta’s family and friends to pay tribute to a local legend.”

Uma SenGupta is also remembered for her work in the community in which she diligently worked for Indian Americans to have a voice, access and equity. Her work as an educationist, activist and community leader received several recognitions, which led her to make history in January 2004, by becoming the first Indian American woman to be sworn in as the Democratic Party District Leader of the 25th Assembly District, Part B, in Queens.

“Uma SenGupta was larger than life — a trailblazer,” said Richards. “This is a small token of our appreciation in memory of her because she advocated for so many. It is so important that we honor heroes and ‘sheroes’ who come from all over the world … this is a great representation of that. This is a great honor for a wonderful leader.”

Uma SenGupta was a grandmother of five and a great grandmother. She often introduced herself as not only the mother, but also the grandmother of the community. She was considered a heroine, as well as a trailblazer, for the community by working with lawmakers to pass legislation that stopped hate crimes against immigrants, especially for people who wore cultural or religious attire, such as Sikhs wearing a turban who had faced violence due to discrimination.

She is also known for initiating a sustainable development project that provided fresh clean drinking water to several rural improvised villages within West Bengal, India entitled the “Give Me Water Project.”

“I was proud to attend the street renaming to honor Uma SenGupta today,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “Uma spent decades fighting for social, racial and economic justice. She embodied the very spirit of Queens, and now her legacy will not be forgotten.”

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