Ofield Dukes remembered as champion for the Black press

HAZEL TRICE EDNEY Special to the AmNews | 12/14/2011, 5:46 p.m.

Among CBC stalwarts, Dukes was especially close to Rep. Charles Rangel.

"As a member of Congress, I have been blessed to call many wonderful people my friend, but none more than Ofield Dukes. I am extremely saddened by the passing of such a great man, who had significant impact in not only my life but that of my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, dating back to its founding," Rangel said in a statement. "Aside from his many accomplishments in business, politics and his personal life, Ofield was simply a true and kind person who sought to make our country a better place for all. I will forever miss his virtue, justness and sincerity."

Dukes was born Aug. 8, 1932, in Rutledge, Ala., served in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1954, earned a journalism degree at Wayne State University in 1958 and got a job at the Michigan Chronicle the same year. He left the Chronicle for Washington, D.C., in 1964 to serve as deputy director of information for the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity under President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1966, he joined the staff of Vice President Hubert Humphrey as a consultant and continued as a consultant to every Democratic presidential campaign since then.

In 2002, Radio One founder Cathy Hughes named the building that houses three of her Detroit stations the Ofield Dukes Communications Center because of his sustaining impact on her career.

Known to spout wisdom and encouragement, Dukes taught as an adjunct professor at Howard University for 17 years and at the American University School of Communications for eight years.

He is founder of the Black Public Relations Society of Washington and was a member of the Washington, D.C./National Capital Public Relations Society of America Hall of Fame and the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame.

The Public Relations Society of America's Detroit chapter, which will hold its first diversity summit in February, has named the summit after Dukes and is sponsoring a scholarship in his name, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Dukes is survived by his beloved daughter, Roxi Victorian, a performing arts graduate from Howard University, a grandson and three sisters: Anne Harris, Betty Hayden and Lou Brock.