Essays About Benjamin L. Hooks
Benjamin L. Hooks and Partisan Politics
By Joshua D. Farrington, PhD
Joshua Farrington is a professor of African/African American studies at Eastern Kentucky University and author of “Black Republicans and the Transformation of the GOP.”
"The legacy of Benjamin Hooks is as wide-ranging as it is lasting. It’s a legacy that includes his role as a powerful agent of social and political change in Memphis, as a power broker in Tennessee state politics, as a groundbreaking federal official, and as the leader of one of the most preeminent organizations in U.S. history, the NAACP. To those unaware of the unique political history of Memphis, one aspect of his life might seem strange when compared to the pantheon of civil rights leaders Hooks joins—his decades as an active member of the Republican Party..."
Ben Hooks: My Memphis Friend and Hero
By W. J. Michael Cody
Michael Cody, a Memphis attorney, has served as United States Attorney, state attorney general, a member of the Memphis City Council and on the legal team for Martin Luther King, Jr. before his assassination in 1968.
"I have lived in Memphis since my birth in 1936 and have always been interested in the city’s history. Growing up, I knew the contributions of Ben Hooks and his family in the early history of the city, but I did not have a chance to meet him until I graduated from law school in 1961 and returned to practice law at Burch Porter & Johnson. Lucius Burch was very much involved in civil rights with Dr. Hooks. During the early 1960s, and continuing up until Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death in 1968, I had many occasions to work with and observe the accomplishments of Dr. Hooks, Jessie Turner, Burch and others in bringing about the desegregation of department stores, transportation systems, museums, parks, libraries and other public accommodations..."
Partners in the Struggle: Dr. Ben and Frances Hooks Work for Equality in Memphis and the Nation
By. J.R. (Pitt) Hyde, III
J.R. (Pitt) Hyde is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who founded the AutoZone car parts store.
"He was both a man of God and a man of the people, and she was pioneer for progress in her own right. In their powerful life’s partnership, Ben and Frances Hooks were forces for a better Memphis and for a United States that lived fully up to its founding ideals. It’s not possible to talk about one without the other..."
Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks and the Memphis Black Freedom Struggle
Shirletta Kinchen, PhD
Shirletta Kinchen is a professor of Pan African Studies at the University of Louisville and the author of “Black Power in the Bluff City: African American Youth and Student Activism in Memphis, 1965-1975.”
"'How long, how long will the Negro citizens of Memphis have to wait to gain the rights which the Constitution of the United States grants them?' decried an impassioned Benjamin L. Hooks at a rally held in the aftermath of arrests of youth protestors during the Memphis sit-in campaign to end desegregation in the city’s public facilities. It was 1960, and a wave of protests initiated by African American students had exploded across the nation. That same enthusiasm and spirit to break the oppressive grip that Jim Crow held over their day-to-day lives engulfed Memphis youth who subsequently embarked on an 18-month campaign aptly called the 'Freedom Movement.' The success of the campaign led to the desegregation of public facilities and accommodations throughout the city..."
Leading While Losing: Benjamin Hooks and the 1980 Presidential Election
By Aram Goudsouzian, PhD
Aram Goudsouzian is chair of the history department at the University of Memphis.
"What does leadership look like? The Civil Rights Movement illustrated that there is no one answer to this question. That era provided many models of leadership. Ella Baker empowered local people at the grassroots. Stokely Carmichael cried for Black Power. Martin Luther King, Jr. projected charismatic moral authority, while Roy Wilkins lobbied big-time politicians for transformative legislation..."
Benjamin L. Hooks and the Seminal Volunteer Ticket Campaign in 1959
By Elizabeth Gritter, PhD
Elizabeth Gritter, PhD, is an associate professor of history at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, Indiana.
"In 1959, four black men made an unprecedented electoral effort in a courageous campaign that galvanized the civil rights struggle in Memphis and changed the city forever. They ran as a unity slate, called the Volunteer Ticket, seeking election to city offices. Martin Luther King, Jr. and civil rights activist Daisy Bates of Little Rock came to Memphis to rally for them, and the black community united under the slogan 'This is a Crusade for Freedom.'"
The Relentless Advocate: Benjamin Hooks’ Historical Tenure at the Federal Communications Commission
By Mignon L. Clyburn
Mignon Clyburn, nominated by President Obama, served on the Federal Communications Commission from 2009 until April 2018.
"As a longtime member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), I was guided by three simple, objective principles: facts are facts, economics is economics, and public interest is public interest. I firmly believe, however, that our approach to these principles is often colored by our experiences. Those experiences shape the way we stand for and remain behind the policies we implement..."
Frances Dancy Hooks: A Lifetime of Service
By Patricia Hooks Gray
Patricia Hooks Gray is the daughter of Benjamin and Frances Hooks.
"Frances Dancy Hooks left a lifetime of service for future generations to build on. As an educator, guidance counselor, organizer, problem solver, and First Lady of two churches, Frances empowered and touched the lives of many in her community and across the nation. Her goals of treating people with respect, doing what was right for all citizens, and being of service to all people were evident in all of her endeavors."