Benjamin Hooks: Former NAACP Leader, Dies

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NAACP President Ben Jealous: “Dr. Benjamin Hooks was among the greatest Americans of the 20th Century. He was a giant of hope and humanity who, as Executive Director and CEO of the NAACP, expanded the circle of opportunity in our nation for millions by greatly accelerating the desegregation of our largest corporations. He was a crusading lawyer--the first Black judge in Tennessee since Reconstruction-- who confronted Southern Justice on behalf of the down trodden and oppressed. He was a courageous and committed preacher of the Word who, as chairman of the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights, insisted that our nation acknowledge and respect the dignity of all Americans regardless of race and ethnicity, as well as gender and sexual orientation.

[Passings]

The NAACP family is deeply saddened by the passing of Executive Director and CEO Emeritus Dr.  Benjamin L. Hooks.  Dr. Benjamin Hooks served as Executive Director and CEO of the NAACP from 1977-1992.

“The NAACP is deeply saddened by the passing of Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks.  Dr. Hooks led this organization to new heights, and we will continue to honor his legacy by fighting on, in his words with truth, justice and righteousness on our side,” said NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock. 

“Not only was Dr. Hooks the NAACP Executive Director and CEO Emeritus but he was a civil rights icon and my mentor and personal friend.  He taught me to stand up for what I believe in; even in the face of adversity, and that the struggle for civil and human rights for all Americans never ends.  Dr. Hooks was a giant in the civil rights movement, in the NAACP and in my life, it is in his memory and the memory of all the other civil rights soldiers who  have passed that I will lead the NAACP into the second century,” concluded Brock.

“Dr. Benjamin Hooks was among the greatest Americans of the 20th Century.  He was a giant of hope and humanity who, as Executive Director and CEO of the NAACP, expanded the circle of opportunity in our nation for millions by greatly accelerating the desegregation of our largest corporations. He was a crusading lawyer--the first Black judge in Tennessee since Reconstruction-- who confronted Southern Justice on behalf of the down trodden and oppressed. He was a courageous and committed preacher of the Word who, as chairman of the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights, insisted that our nation acknowledge and respect the dignity of all Americans regardless of race and ethnicity, as well as gender and sexual orientation. 

He was a great organizer, communicator, and mentor to legions of young leaders who continue to define our nation today.  He was simply the greatest living person to have served as Executive Director and CEO of the NAACP. We will miss him dearly” said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous.

“Dr. Benjamin Hooks was a dynamic NAACP CEO who lifted the organization and by force of personality gave it a heightened presence on the national scene. He performed my wedding ceremony to my wife Pam and was a stalwart advisor during my tenure as Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors.  Dr. Hooks will be much missed.”

“The NAACP and the Civil Rights movement lost a giant today.  Dr. Hooks was a man who broke down racial barriers throughout his entire life, and dedicated his personal and professional life to the struggle for all people of color.  I had the pleasure of serving as National President of the NAACP while Dr. Hooks was Executive Director and CEO.  He worked tirelessly to ensure that all Americans were treated equally and righteously, he inspired everyone he spoke to and dealt with.  Without a leader like Dr. Hooks we would not have the generation of leaders we have today, Chairman Roslyn Brock and President and CEO Jealous.  Dr. Hooks will be missed terribly,” said NAACP New York State Conference President Hazel N. Dukes.

Hooks was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1925.  He graduated from Howard University in 1944 and then joined the army shortly thereafter where he earned the rank of staff sergeant.  After completing his army duty, Dr. Hooks enrolled in DePaul University College of Law after no Tennessee law school would admit him.  Upon receiving his law degree, Hooks returned to Memphis to practice law and he joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  In 1965 he became Tennessee’s first
black criminal court judge and in 1972 Richard Nixon appointed him to be one of the five commissioners of the FCC.  On November 6, 1976, the NAACP Board of Directors elected Hooks as Executive Director where he served until 1992.

Dr. Hooks spoke at the NAACP’s Centennial Convention in New York last July and left the NAACP with words to live by: “Let’s fight on until justice runs down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.  Let’s fight on until there is no down-sizing, until there is no glass ceiling.  Let’s fight on until God shall gather the four winds of heaven; until the angel shall plant one foot on the sea and the other on dry land and declare that the time that has been will be no more.  Fight on, until
the lion shall lie down with the lamb.  Fight on, until justice, righteousness, hopes equality and opportunity is the birthright of all Americans.”


"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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