By Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) – As the crisis on Mass and Cass makes headlines, we take a closer look at the namesake of Melnea Cass Boulevard. Known as “The First Lady of Roxbury”, Cass was a beloved advocate for African Americans in the city.

In fact, she dedicated her life to addressing some of the problems that are seen now in the area.

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Cheryl Brown-Greene from Boston Women’s Heritage talked about Cass’s legacy. “My first thoughts of Melnea come from a quote that she had. She said, ‘If we can not do great things, we can do small things in great ways,'” Brown-Greene said. “She was an activist, a community leader, a community organizer.”

Cass worked hard to fight for domestic worker rights and for educational opportunities for people of color.

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“She was so charismatic and so determined and persistent, she was able to organize people together so they could fight for better conditions here in Boston,” Brown-Greene said.

In 1981, the city opened Melnea Cass Boulevard, three years after her death.

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The YWCA in the Back Bay is also named in her honor, recognizing her work for children, families, and career development. Brown-Greene says it’s fitting to talk about Cass on Veteran’s Day because she was a patriot and a Gold Star mother.

Paula Ebben