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Reaction Pours in to Benjamin Hooks’ Passing

First African-American FCC commissioner dies at 85

Civil rights leader and former FCC Commissioner Benjamin Hooks passed away Thursday. He was 85.

Hooks, appointed to the commission in 1972 by the Nixon administration, was the first African-American commissioner at the FCC, and he was executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People from 1977 to 1992.

NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith said, “As a dedicated civil rights leader and committed public servant, Commissioner Hooks had a tremendous and lasting impact on broadcast diversity during his tenure at the FCC,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. “Broadcasters mourn the loss of a great American who was committed to equal opportunity in life and on the public airwaves.”

Current FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said during his five-year tenure at the FCC in the 1970s, Hooks “worked tirelessly to expand opportunities for minorities and the poor, communities that had long been without a strong voice at the agency or in the media landscape. He was a fierce advocate for minority broadcast ownership and increasing minority employment in the broadcast industry.”

Genachowski said Hook’s work did not stop there. “Just last year, Hooks urged the FCC to remember that broadband access and adoption are essential to full civic participation in our society.” In honor of Hooks’ lifelong commitment to advancing the participation and rights of minorities and the poor, in 2002, the FCC renamed its Blacks in Government Chapter the FCC-Benjamin Hooks Chapter.

Hooks was a Baptist minister for two churches, a businessman, a lawyer and the first black criminal court judge appointed to the Tennessee bench.

The cause of death was not reported.

Related —Obama Praises Hooks (B&C)