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Reverend Benjamin Hooks

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Information about Reverend Benjamin Hooks

Profile image of Reverend Benjamin Hooks

Profession

Category:
ReligionMakers
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Association Chief Executive
Minister
Civil Rights Activist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
In all thy ways acknowledge God, and He will direct thy path.

Birthplace

Born:
1/31/1925
Birth Location:
Memphis, Tennessee

Profession

Category:
ReligionMakers
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Association Chief Executive
Minister
Civil Rights Activist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
In all thy ways acknowledge God, and He will direct thy path.

Birthplace

Born:
1/31/1925
Birth Location:
Memphis
See how Reverend Benjamin Hooks is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Lifelong civil rights activist the Reverend Benjamin L. Hooks was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on January 31, 1925. At an early age, Hooks was inspired to excel in his education, largely due to the influence of his grandmother, who was the second black woman in the United States to graduate from college. Hooks's education took him to LeMoyne College in Tennessee, which he attended from 1941 to 1943. In 1943, Hooks transferred to Howard University and joined the Army, where he guarded Italian prisoners of war. Graduating from Howard in 1944, Hooks went to DePaul University in Chicago for his J.D. degree, completing the program in 1948.

Facing racism everywhere he went, Hooks began to fight to change the problems he encountered. Hooks returned to Memphis after law school and set up his own practice, quickly establishing a reputation for himself. After joining the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Hooks was ordained as a minister in 1956, and began preaching, in addition to his duties as a lawyer. In 1965, after a few failed election bids, Hooks was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Tennessee criminal court judicial bench, becoming the first African American to serve on the criminal court in Tennessee. Never one to slow down, Hooks also produced several television shows in the area, and his support of President Richard Nixon brought about his appointment as the first African American on the Federal Communications Commission in 1972. When Hooks left the FCC, he was almost immediately voted in to serve as the executive director of the NAACP, where he served from 1977 until 1992. In the early 1990s, Hooks and his family were among the targets of a series of racially motivated bombings; these events, combined with the difficult task of managing an organization the size of the NAACP, led him to retire. Following his departure from the NAACP, Hooks taught at Fisk University as a professor of social justice.

Later on, the University of Memphis established the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change, to house symposia and archives on civil rights. Hooks was awarded several honorary degrees and human rights awards, and was honored by Congress. Hooks and his wife, Frances, were married in 1951; the couple raised one child. On March 24, 2001, Benjamin and Frances Hooks renewed their wedding vows to celebrate nearly fifty years of marriage. Hooks passed away on April 15, 2010.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Benjamin Hooks interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Benjamin Hooks lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Benjamin Hooks recalls his mother's family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Benjamin Hooks shares memories of his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Benjamin Hooks details how his parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Benjamin Hooks describes his father's family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Benjamin Hooks remembers his grandmother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Benjamin Hooks reflects on life in the Depression
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Benjamin Hooks recalls his siblings' salaries
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Benjamin Hooks describes his grammar and high schools
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Benjamin Hooks discusses the Democratic Party boss in Memphis
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Benjamin Hooks shares some childhood memories
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Benjamin Hooks recalls his high school years
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Benjamin Hooks compares affirmative action and the GI Bill of Rights
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Benjamin Hooks shares his career aspirations and role modes as a youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Benjamin Hooks relates his experiences in the segregated army
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Benjamin Hooks reflects on his law school experiences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Benjamin Hooks recounts how his early calling to the ministry
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Benjamin Hooks explains the ever changing names of his churches
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Benjamin Hooks discusses his wedding anniversaries
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Benjamin Hooks discusses the role of Elks groups and the black church in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Benjamin Hooks recalls his political activity in the 1950s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Benjamin Hooks details his involvement in voter registrations and election campaigns
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Benjamin Hooks discloses how he became a public defender
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Benjamin Hooks relates how he was elected a judge
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Benjamin Hooks explains his political affiliations
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Benjamin Hooks recounts how he became a commissioner of the FCC
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Benjamin Hooks remembers how he helped to change racial discrimination in communications
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Benjamin Hooks details how he helped alleviate discrimination in the communications industry
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Benjamin Hooks recounts the obstacles faced by the NAACP
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Benjamin Hooks lists the NAACP's successes during his tenure
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Benjamin Hooks discusses tensions with the NAACP
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Benjamin Hooks illustrates how the NAACP "broke the back of bondage"