February 23rd is the birthday of Frances Dancy Hooks. In 1949, Mrs. Hooks, wife of the late Dr. Benjamin Hooks, began a career in education that would span 24 years.
She made a name for herself in the Memphis City School System. Among her many achievements was the co-founding of the Memphis Volunteer Placement Program, an effort to bring volunteer counselors to work with African American students.
In 1951, she married a young lawyer by the name of Benjamin Hooks. In 1956, the Hooks family desegregated the all-white Parkway East community. In 1968, in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, Frances Dancy Hooks organized the People Power Project, a group of black and white teenagers who worked for a better understanding of racial problems.
In 1973, Benjamin Hooks became the first black appointee to the Federal Communications Commission. Frances put her career on hold to be her husband’s assistant, secretary, advisor, and traveling companion.
Then, in 1977, her husband became Executive Director of the NAACP. Frances Hooks and Earleen Bolden soon organized Women in the NAACP.
Frances Hooks spent much of the 1990s focused on such issues as teen pregnancy, black history, and AIDS. She also served on the Advisory Board of Rhodes College and the Memphis Symphony League.
Here’s wishing a happy birthday to Frances Dancy Hooks.