Papers by the Archivist William C. Love
The Benjamin Lawson Hooks Papers: An Introduction
Benjamin Hooks, Ronald Reagan, and Economic Inequality
Benjamin L. Hooks, Federal Communications Commission, 1972-1977
One early morning in 1972, Benjamin Hooks received a call from Howard Baker, Republican senator from Tennessee. Baker informed Hooks that he intended to make Hooks the first Black nominee for the Federal Communications Commission. At first, Hooks, suspicious of adjoining himself to the Nixon administration, declined the offer but after discussing the matter with his wife, Hooks changed his mind and accepted the nomination.
Benjamin Hooks, His Life in the Church
“For as long as I can remember, the church has been an integral part of my life.” So opened Dr. Hooks in a chapter of his memoir entitled “My Life and the Church.” While Dr. Hooks is primarily remembered for his accomplishments as a lawyer, judge, and NAACP executive, Dr. Hooks devoted a substantial part of his life to the church, as both a layman and a minister. Dr. Hooks’ life in the church was both typical and atypical of a Southern Black man born in the early twentieth century. Hooks was unsurprisingly raised in the church and attended both Sunday school and worship services from a very early age with his family. The main driver of his childhood faith was his mother, with his father being largely indifferent to organized religion until later in life. Yet, in spite of being the son of committed member of the AME tradition and often attending AME worship services, Hooks was reared largely in an uncharismatic tradition. First Baptist Church, Hooks’ Sunday school church from an early age, was what he called a “blue stocking church” which incorporated “intellectual” sermons into worship services. It was led by Dr. T.O. Fuller, one of the only Memphis Black preachers to have a formal seminary education and who over the course of his life authored several books on Black history and the Black church. Even when attending the AME worship services, Hooks recalled that his mother never identified with the “shouting” aspects of many Black churches.
Frances Dancy Hooks
Born and raised in Memphis, Frances Dancy Hooks (1927 – 2016) was a well-known educator and wife of NAACP executive director Benjamin Hooks. Through her work with the NAACP and other organizations, Mrs. Hooks influenced the trajectory of initiatives involving education, poverty, and women's rights here in Memphis and throughout the nation. This presentation will focus on her life as a teacher, activist, and church member, demonstrating how her work at the intersection of African-American and women's civil rights greatly influenced modern women's history.