A memorial tribute to the late Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 14, at the University of Memphis’ Michael D. Rose Theatre. The tribute, which is free and open to the public, is in conjunction with the annual open house hosted by the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University.
Dr. Hooks, who died April 15, 2010, held the position of distinguished adjunct professor in the Department of Political Science and History at the U of M. The Hooks Institute was founded in 1996 to honor its civil rights pioneer namesake, to preserve the history of the American civil rights movement, and to advance the legacy of that movement through scholarship and community action.
Having lived through the era of segregation and Jim Crow, the civil rights movement, and the election of the first African-American president of the United States, Dr. Hooks was both a catalyst for and a witness to profound and positive changes in the institutional fabric of this country. He made a significant and lasting contribution to the nation through his civil rights activism and to the intellectual life of the UofM through his support of the Hooks Institute.
The memorial tribute will examine his civil rights activism through the lens of local civil rights icons Dr. Maxine Smith and the Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles. University officials will discuss Dr. Hooks’ contributions to the University. Faculty members will showcase Hooks Institute projects that incorporate 21st century technology to distribute resources and scholarship about civil rights events.
The tribute will also feature interviews contained in the documentary Duty of the Hour: The Life and Times of Benjamin L. Hooks (working title), which the Institute is producing. The movie trailer includes excerpts of interviews with former President Jimmy Carter, NAACP CEO Ben Jealous, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, former Urban League CEO Vernon Jordan, University of Texas – Austin historian Laurie B. Green, and Richard E. Wiley, former colleague of Dr. Hooks and former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The completed documentary (expected fall 2011) will provide insight into Hooks’ effectiveness in building local and national allies with Republicans, Democrats, business leaders, and others to advance his civil rights agenda during the early years of his activism, as the first African-American commissioner at the FCC, and as the executive director of the NAACP.
A detailed biography of Dr. Hooks can be found online at the Hooks Institute’s website, benhooks.memphis.edu
University of Memphis For release: September 8, 2010 For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901-678-3812 or Daphene R. McFerren, 901-678-3974