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Who Was Melnea Cass?

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.

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.

"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.

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.

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