Benjamin L. Hooks, civil rights leader, dies

Published 9:47 am Thursday, April 15, 2010

Benjamin L. Hooks, who led the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for 16 years, died Thursday. He was 85.

The Associated Press reported he died at his home in Memphis following a long illness.

Hooks was an attorney and a criminal court judge. He was the first black to be appointed to the bench in Tennessee, the first to be named to the five-member Federal Communications Commission.

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Hooks was one of the board members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

In 2007, Hooks received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the country’s highest civilian honors, from then-President George W. Bush.