Page 1: Introductions and Early life of Benjamin Hooks
Page 2 -3: Body of work
Page 4 : Honors and awards
Page 5: Biography
Benjamin Lawson Hooks (January 31, 1925 – April 15, 2010) was an American civil rights leader. A Baptist minister and practicing attorney, he served as executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of ColoredPeople (NAACP) from 1977 to 1992, and throughout his career was a vocal campaigner for civil rights in the United States.
Benjamin Hooks was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He was the fifth of seven children of Robert B. Hooks and Bessie White Hooks. His father was a photographer and owned a photography studio with his brother Henry known at the time as Hooks Brothers, and the family was fairlycomfortable by the standards of black people for the day. Still, he recalls that he had to wear hand-me-down clothes and that his mother had to be careful to make the dollars stretch to feed and care for the family.
Young Benjamin’s paternal grandmother, Julia Britton Hooks (1852–1942), graduated from Berea College in Kentucky in 1874 and was only the second American black woman to graduate from college.She was a musical prodigy who began playing piano publicly at age five, and at age 18 joined Berea’s faculty, teaching instrumental music 1870–72. Her sister, Dr. Mary E. Britton, also attended Berea, and became a physician in Lexington, Kentucky. With such a family legacy, young Benjamin was inspired to study hard and prepare himself for college. In his youth, he had felt called to theChristian ministry. His father, however, did not approve and discouraged Benjamin from such a calling.Benjamin was a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
Hooks enrolled in LeMoyne-Owen College, in Memphis, Tennessee. There he undertook a pr e-law course of study1941–43. In his college years he became more acutely aware that he was one of a large number of Americans who were required to use segregated lunch counters, water fountains, and restrooms. “I wish I could tell you every time I was on the highway and couldn’t use a restroom,” he told U.S. News & World Report in an interview. “My bladder is messed up because of that. Stomach is messed up from eatingcold sandwiches.”
After graduating in 1944 from Howard University, he joined the Army and had the job of guarding Italian prisoners of war. He found it humiliating that the prisoners were allowed to eat in restaurants from which he was barred. He was discharged from the Army after the end of the war with the rank of staff sergeant. After the war he enrolled at the DePaul University College ofLaw in Chicago to study law. No law school in his native Tennessee would admit him. He graduated from DePaul in 1948 with his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree.
Upon graduation Hooks immediately returned to his native Memphis. By this time he was thoroughly committed to breaking down the practices of racial segregation that existed in the United States. Fighting prejudice at every turn, he passedthe Tennessee bar exam and set up his own law practice. “At that time you were insulted by law clerks, excluded from white bar associations and when I was in court, I was lucky to be called Ben,” he recalled in an interview with Jet magazine. “Usually it was just ‘boy.’ But the judges were always fair. The discrimination of those days has changed and, today, the South is ahead of the North in manyrespects in civil rights progress.” Hooks still felt the calling to the Christian ministry that he had felt in his youth. He was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1956 and began to preach regularly at the Greater Middle Baptist Church in Memphis, while continuing his busy law practice. He joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (then known as Southern Negro Leaders Conference on...