Benjamin Hooks

Benjamin Hooks

Benjamin Hooks was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on 6th October, 1936. After military service in the Second World War, he attended De Paul University in Chicago.

Hooks worked as a lawyer in Memphis before being ordained as a Baptist minister. Hooks became active in the civil rights movement and participated in the campaign against Jim Crow laws, including sit-in protests against segregated lunch counters.

Hooks took a keen interest in the law and in 1965 became the first African American to be appointed as a Shelby County criminal court judge.

In 1972 President Richard Nixon appointed Hooks to the Federal Communications Commission. Five years later he became executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP), a post he held until 1993.

Benjamin Hooks is currently adjunct professor for the Political Science department of the University of Memphis.

Primary Sources

(1) In 1980, Benjamin Hooks explained why the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People was against using violence to obtain civil rights.

There are a lot of ways an oppressed people can rise. One way to rise is to study, to be smarter than your oppressor. The concept of rising against oppression through physical contact is stupid and self-defeating. It exalts brawn over brain. And the most enduring contributions made to civilization have not been made by brawn, they have been made by brain.