Duty of the Hour

A documentary film about Benjamin L. Hooks, Memphian and civil rights hero.

A production of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis.

The story of Benjamin L. Hooks is an exploration of this nation's long, complex, and difficult history of race. Equally as important, the story of Hooks highlights how our nation was, and can be, transformed by committed visionaries like Hooks, who were determined to make every second of their lives count to fulfill their Duty of the Hour

Watch  Duty of the Hour on the KCET website >

The true measure of our lives is not determined by the number of years we live, but in how we positively shape the lives of others and our communities in those years. As a minister, activist, father, husband, and friend of many, Dr. Hooks recognized that the span of one's life is relatively short compared to the passing decades and centuries that created the backdrop of history into which each of us is born. Nevertheless, he recognized that even one lifetime, dedicated to the right causes (in Hooks' case, the advancement of civil rights), can change the face of history and a nation.

See the Duty of the Hour Trailer!

Video c/o WKNO-TV Memphis

Are you making the seconds of your life count?

We hope that Duty of the Hour, a documentary that examines Benjamin L. Hooks' rise from the streets of segregated Memphis to the national stage, will encourage each of us to ask: Am I making the seconds of my life count? Are we reaching beyond the safe and routine activities of family and friends to build bridges to those of different racial and ethnic backgrounds? Are we engaged in the civic affairs of our local, state, and national community? Are we connecting with communities whose values and lifestyle seem unfamiliar to us? Are we building a better world for our youth and people in need? 

Whether we choose to live a private life, or a life on a larger stage, almost all of us can make a personal commitment to be involved with issues and people that shape our world.

Hooks was born on January 31, 1925, in Memphis, TN. As an African American growing up in a segregated world, his future accomplishments as a civil rights activist and a high-level government official (Hooks was the first African American to serve on the U.S. Federal Communications Commission) seemed unimaginable. However, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and many other civil rights activists of that period, Hooks was not bound by the constraints others placed on him because of his race. Instead, the demeaning segregationist practices he experienced inspired Hooks to take action, fueling his drive to ensure a more inclusive nation for future generations. By accepting his duty of the hour with grace, courage, conviction, drive, and strength of character, Hooks advanced the efforts started more than a century ago by abolitionists, African Americans, and others to force America to reject racist and caustic practices.