Hooks, Benjamin (Lawson)(1925– ) judge, public official, civil rights reformer; born in Memphis, Tenn. A lawyer as well as an ordained minister, he was pastor of the Middle Baptist Church of Memphis (1956–72), cofounder and vice-president of the Mutual Federal Savings and Loan Association (1955–69), and the first black judge to serve in the Shelby County Criminal Court (1965–68). He gained national recognition as the first African-American to serve on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) (1972–77), where he became a driving force to improve both the portrayal of and employment opportunities for African-Americans in the electronic media. He succeeded Roy Wilkins as executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) (1977–93) and pushed the organization to be more vocal and activist in pro-black concerns. He served as producer and host of a number of television shows airing racial issues.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.