Readies Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Program
Civil Rights Leader
Benjamin L. Hooks Is Keynote Speaker
January 11, 2002-- The Rev.
Benjamin L. Hooks, a lawyer and Baptist preacher born in the segregated
South who has dedicated his life to advancing the civil rights of
African Americans, will be the keynote speaker for the University
of Virginias 2002 celebration of the life of Martin Luther
program, "Abiding and Audacious Faith: The Legacy of Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr.," will be held Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. in Old Cabell
Hall. It is free and open to the public.
addition to Hooks talk -- "Where Do We Go From Here?"
-- the program will feature Kings Nobel Peace Prize acceptance
speech delivered by fourth-year student James Nowlin III, a presentation
by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and dancing by the Mahogany Dance
program is co-sponsored by the U.Va. Office of African-American
Affairs, the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs, the Office of
the Dean of Students, the Center for Religion and Democracy, the
Institute for Public History, the Cultural Programming Board and
the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration.
was born in Memphis, Tenn., in 1925 into a family that prized education
-- his grandmother was a college graduate.
attended a pre-law program at LeMoyne College in Memphis from 1941-43,
and attended Howard University the next year. World War II delayed
his education, sending him to serve with the U.S. Army in the European
theater where he received a promotion to the rank of staff sergeant.
After the war, he headed to Chicago to study law at DePaul
University, earning his J.D. degree in 1948. He then returned to
Memphis, passed the Tennessee Bar and opened his own law practice,
becoming one of the few black lawyers in the city.
the 1950s, Hooks was ordained a Baptist minister and joined Martin
Luther King Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He also
began participating in civil rights protests sponsored by the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In 1965, Tennessee
Gov. Frank G. Clement appointed him to the Shelby County criminal
court, making him the first black criminal court judge in the state.
He won election to a full term in office the following year.
moved with his wife to Washington, D.C., in 1972, when President
Richard Nixon named him to the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC). Under his watch, minority employment in the U.S. broadcasting
industry rose from 3 to 15 percent.
1977, Hooks took over as director of the NAACP, serving as its director
for the next 15 years. In the 1950s and 1960s, the organization
counted almost half a million members, but membership fell by more
than half in the 1970s. As director, Hooks worked to rebuild the
organizations membership and bolster its financial strength.
of elected officials limited attention to issues relating
to inner-city poverty and public education, Hooks has encouraged
a stronger commitment to self-help within the black community, urging
successful African Americans to help those less fortunate.
Charlotte Crystal, (434) 924-6858