About Duty of the Hour
Photograph: Benjamin L. Hooks. Copyright DeSiose.
Duty of the Hour is the first documentary film to explore the life of civil rights activist Benjamin L. Hooks and his dramatic intersection with many of the defining historical moments in the American Civil Rights Movement. The film explores his journey from the segregated backstreets of south Memphis during the Great Depression, through the Memphis "reign of terror" on the black community, his experience in WWII, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and his rise to the grand stage of American public life.
To convey the personal and the public dimensions of his journey, the film consists of interviews with Benjamin L. Hooks, a host of individuals who worked with him through the Civil Rights era, and those who can bear witness to a life lived in pursuit of social justice. Among those featured are public servants President Jimmy Carter, Senator Lamar Alexander, and Congressman Steve Cohen; Frances Hooks (wife of Benjamin L. Hooks); Civil Rights advocates Hazel Dukes, Rev. Billy Kyles, Maxine Smith, and Vernon Jordan; and historian Laurie Green. The interviews serve as testimonials, commentary, and critical reflection on Hooks' life in the context of the historical events in which he lived.
The extensive use of archival film footage and photographs of Memphis and the Civil Rights Movement bring to life the historical events, people. and situations in which Hooks was an active leader and participant. Together the interviews, archival footage, and photographs form the central narrative thread for exploring the life and times of Benjamin Hooks and his journey through the tumultuous ebb and flow of the American Civil Rights Movement. This documentary is more than just documentation of a life: it is a poetic meditation on personal sacrifice, moral conviction, and the quest for a higher ideal played out against the wider canvas of the American story.