NAACP (36472)

Memphis educator and civil rights advocate Frances Hooks has died. She was 88

Hooks, known for her dedication to education and philanthropic endeavors – both in her home in Memphis, Tennessee, and nationwide – was the dedicated wife of former NAACP leader Benjamin L. Hooks.

“It is with the deepest gratitude and admiration for Frances Hooks’ lifetime of civil rights dedication that the thoughts and prayers of the NAACP and its national constituency go out to her family,” the NAACP said in statement

Hooks married the civil rights figure in 1951, proving to be his greatest advocate and supporter until his death in 2010. A second grade teacher in Shelby County, Tennessee, Hooks put her career on hold to assist her husband in his own roles as an activist and civil rights leader. The couple moved to Washington, D.C. in 1972 when Benjamin became the first African-American appointee to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Beginning his career as a minister and attorney, Benjanmin rose in the legal system to become a judge and, later executive director of the NAACP, serving from 1977 to 1993.

During her husband’s tenure as executive director, Hooks became a major figure within the organization as well. Along with fellow member Earleen Bolden, she organized the trailblazing Women in the NAACP (WIN), an unprecedented project which aimed to enhance the leadership roles of women both within the Association and in everyday life. She also co-founded The People Power Project, a community advocacy group for race relations and social justice outreach, and the Memphis Volunteer Placement Program. Both organizations continue her legacy to this day.

She leaves behind the couple’s only daughter, Patricia, two grandsons and great-grandsons.