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Civil rights leader Benjamin Hooks dies

Emma Brown

Benjamin Hooks, longtime NAACP director and champion of minorities and the poor, died early this morning at his home in Tennessee. He was 85.

Dr. Hooks was a lawyer and preacher who became one of the country's great civil rights leaders. In 2007, President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the country. (Here's a photo gallery of some of his life's highlights.)

Thumbnail image for hooks.jpg

"Dr. Hooks was a calm yet forceful voice for fairness, opportunity and personal responsibility," said George W. Bush, presenting Dr. Hooks the Presidential Medal of Freedom. "He never tired or faltered in demanding that our nation live up to its founding ideals of liberty and equality."

In the 1960s, Dr. Hooks became the first black judge since the Civil War to sit on a state trial court in the South when he was appointed to the Tennessee Criminal Court.

In the 1970s, he became the first black commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission when President Richard Nixon appointed him to that post. He pushed through a new rule requiring television and radio stations to be offered publicly before they could be sold; minority employment in the broadcast industry increase fivefold during his five-year tenure.


In 1977, he took the helm of the NAACP, an organization whose membership and influence had dwindled since the 1950s and 60s, the days of Rosa Parks and the March on Washington.

"Black Americans are not defeated," he told Ebony magazine after becoming the NAACP's director. "The civil rights movement is not dead. If anyone thinks that we are going to stop agitating, they had better think again."

He led the organization until 1992, successfully boosting its enrollment and visibility.

Here, a tribute to him on his 80th birthday:

A full obituary will follow.

By Emma Brown  |  April 15, 2010; 8:46 AM ET
Categories:  Emma Brown  | Tags: African-American Civil Rights Movement, Benjamin Hooks, Benjamin Hooks died, Benjamin Hooks obituary, Civil and political rights, George W. Bush, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Richard Nixon, Rosa Parks  
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Comments

R.I.P. A great man. God bless him.

Posted by: monk4hall | April 15, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

All I can think about is Michelle Bachmann's assertion that John Lewis is lying about being called the "N" word and being spat upon by Tea Party goons. These kind of great men have lived the life they represent. The post should do an interview of Bachmann and Palin and see just how much they know about Civil Rights. Bachmann does not know who John Lewis is. Saaaaad....
God Bless You Mr. Hooks

Posted by: minco_007 | April 15, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

My sincere condolences to the Hooks family on their loss.

Posted by: Libramom | April 15, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

minco, 00-dimwit.

Its race baiting A-holes like you and John "The Liar" Lewis, that diminish the great work, from "republican" civil rights leaders the liking of. Dr. Martin Luther King & Dr. Benjamin Hooks.

Posted by: dashriprock | April 15, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

My condolences to the friends and family of Dr. Hooks. I am a distant relative (my mother was a Hooks from Cheraw S.C.) and Fraternity Brother to this very special man. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but I've been an admirer and follower of his career for many years. Peace and Blessings to you Brother Hooks; may you rest in the everlasting peace of Omega Chapter - one with the creator, our Supreme Basileus.

Blessings.

Posted by: jbs1 | April 15, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

minco, 00-dimwit.

Its race baiting A-holes like you and John "The Liar" Lewis, that diminish the great work, from "republican" civil rights leaders the liking of. Dr. Martin Luther King & Dr. Benjamin Hooks.
===
You can't just sweep the dixiecrat migration under the rug.

Posted by: Crucialitis | April 15, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Crucialitis and minco_007

This is not about political parties, its and which one had the most racist. Its about Dr Hooks. If you want to argue about which party each civil rights leader belong to and what that party stood for in various moments in history this is not the place for it. I know you think the internet blog was invented as a personal soapbox for your single simple minded agendas but its also a place where people can show kindness and respect to men like Dr Hooks. Can both of you get a grip and a life? You both need time out. No recess outside for you and no more Wii if you cant behave yourselves. Prince once said, act your age, not your shoe size.

Posted by: ged0386 | April 15, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

RIP Dr. Hooks. May the Lord shine brightly over you and grant your soul peace and grant solace to your surviving family members. Another great freedom fighter will take his perch amongst the great fighters who helped shape this country in to a better place in spite of the hateful rethuglikkkons and their teabagger shills.

Posted by: numbers28 | April 15, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Hooks wanted special privileges for blacks, the continuation of black only programs while also sharing in programs for all. He helped institutionalize racial privileges as "diversity". I am sure his family is sad, but I do not mourn him. What he wanted was wrong.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | April 15, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Hooks wanted special privileges for blacks, the continuation of black only programs while also sharing in programs for all. He helped institutionalize racial privileges as "diversity". I am sure his family is sad, but I do not mourn him. What he wanted was wrong.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | April 15, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Nemo, you foolish fool!!! Who gives a f--k who you mourn. We won't be mourning your monkey a$$ when you die, either. Racist dog, how can you fix your stupid trap to even suggest someone wanted special privileges for blacks? When it comes to programs designated for a single race of people, you need to check your own history, and your present, for that matter. Punk dog.

Posted by: stanmose | April 15, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

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