Credit: Contributed

In honor of her late husband, Ernie Marshall, Gloria J. Browne-Marshall ran the 47th annual NYC marathon this past Sunday with the Gilda’s Club. As an assistant professor of constitutional law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, she is the founder of The Law and Policy Group, Inc., and an award-winning playwright. She has litigated civil rights and public law cases for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Community Legal Services and Southern Poverty Law Center. Her works include “The Voting Rights War: The NAACP and the Ongoing Struggle for Justice,” “Race, Law and American Society: 1607-Present” (Criminology and Justice Studies) and “The Report on the Status of Black Women and Girls, and Race, Law and American Society: 1607-Present” (Criminology and Justice Studies). She has seven plays to her very prestigious name, including “Killing Me Softly,’’ which ran at Bed-Stuy’s Billie Holiday Theater in Brooklyn.

Even with all these accomplishments under her belt, Nov. 5, 2017, the graduate of the University of Missouri at Columbia, St. Louis University and University of Pennsylvania was New York Marathon participant 73273.

As many New Yorkers know, the annual marathon takes place on the first Sunday in November. Participants run throughout the five boroughs of New York City, starting in Staten Island and ending in Manhattan. The entire marathon is approximately 26.2 miles and has more than 50,0000 participants. “The last time I have ever done a run like this, I was in high school,” Browne-Marshall chuckled as she was preparing for the run. “I won’t mention what year it was, but it was certainly not last year.”

On Dec. 5, 2016, Ernie Marshall died from complications associated with lung cancer. Browne-Marshall mentioned that her late husband’s smoking habits contributed to his deficient state of health. She emphasized, “Please beware of what you are doing to your body. Everything we do to our bodies does have consequences. Smoking definitely impacted my husband’s health, and I wish to anyone who has a current habit of smoking to stop while they are ahead.” She noted that both she and her husband were affected by the toxic air of 9/11 as they were downtown around that time. “Our health state has been immensely effected by the aftermath. Many people may not realize, but there are civilians who are still dealing with health defects.” Along with thousands of other civilians who were affected by this tragedy, she said she is watching pending

lawsuits with the NYS.

She said that she is still struggling with the loss of her husband, who did not let others know that he was suffering from lung cancer. As his primary caregiver, Browne-Marshall endured a lot, she admits. It was a rough time then and since, as she deals with the loss. The marathon was part of her efforts to keep busy, she said.

Marshall was an accountant and specialized in business management and e-commerce consulting. He was also an immediate relative of the eminent Supreme Court Justice judge and civil rights activist Thurgood Marshall.

Browne-Marshall is also a civil rights attorney. She worked for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Community Legal Services in Philadelphia. She earned her law degree from St. Louis University and her master’s in government from the University of Pennsylvania.

The John Jay College of criminal justice associate professor teaches on the topics of gender, justice, race and law. Awards that she has earned from her work include the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Justice Award and the Wiley College Woman of Excellence Award. Browne-Marshall is also a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and advocates for community service.

She noted sadly that she is part of a widows’ club. She learned that the members of the club made sure they were busy so that they don’t focus on the death of their loved ones.

She decided she should go in that same path. “Because I was so busy and I looked like I had everything together, people just assumed I was OK, but I wasn’t. Just because someone may look like they are happy doesn’t mean they are. It’s really important for people to realize this. Especially in our communities, we don’t deal with grief and mental issues properly.”

Browne-Marshall is also a member of Gilda’s Club. Gilda’s Club is an organization that empowers cancer patients and their families by providing healthy lifestyle and educational workshops. Browne-Marshall related, “Gilda’s Club has been a great support group. I have met so many wonderful people in this organization.” Members joined Browne-Marshall to participate in the race. They believe it is important to participate in an opportunity to honor a loved one who was a victim of cancer. Just in this race alone, they were able to raise $3,242. This Thursday, Nov. 9, Gilda’s Club will be hosting their 22nd anniversary benefit gala at the Pierre Hotel. Starting at 6 p.m., there will be a dinner, awards and a live auction.

“Gilda’s Club gave me a lot of support,” Browne -Marshall said, adding, “We really need to have resources in our community where we deal with bereavement.”