Hundreds turn out to mourn Medgar Evers dean killed in Amtrak crash

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Josh Einiger has the story. (WABC)

Family, friends, colleagues and students gathered in the Bronx Friday evening to bid a final farewell to the Brooklyn college dean who was killed in the Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia.

They came by the busload to remember 43-year-old Derrick Griffith, a lifelong educator who was dean of student affairs and enrollment management at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn.

His sister Lakeisha is shattered.

"I never knew how much, how powerful," she said. "My brother knew a lot of people, and he wanted all of us to be strong, be strong."

But it was hard for those who turned out to be strong in the face of such sudden tragedy.

Griffith was heading home to Brooklyn when Amtrak Train 188 sailed off the tracks. He was among eight passengers who would not survive.

He believed in education, for himself as well as others, founding the City University of New York Preparatory Transitional High School, which offers underprivileged youth a pathway to college. And along the way, he helped scores of young people lift themselves up.

"He was not the kind of person who would boast," friend Frantz Dautruche said. "Just caring, and that's the thing I'm going to miss about him."

Griffith joined Medgar Evers College in 2011 as assistant provost. It was the first of a number of roles he would fill at the college, where officials said he urged students to pursue education "with vigor."

Griffith went on to get a Masters degree in philosophy and urban history, then his doctorate. Former Schools Chancellor Rudy Crew, now president of Medgar Evers, said education was organic to Griffith.

"Derrick was one of these people who didn't join the field of education, he had the spirit of education in him," he said. "He believed in mentoring...(being a) change agent in someone's life."

The wake and a funeral for Griffith were held at the Community Protestant Church in Baychester.

"If you got people you can't connect to, connect now," Lakeisha said. "Because you never know what tomorrow brings."

Medgar Evers College is humbled to announce the creation of the Dr. Derrick E. Griffith Memorial Scholarship Fund. This new fund will ensure that Medgar Evers College is able to continue supporting students who have overcome major obstacles as they look towards a brighter future.
For more information on how to apply please visit: http://www.mec.cuny.edu/Dr-Griffith.aspx

Related Topics:
amtrak train crashamtrakNew York CityBaychester
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