Future law student Canita Clipper felt compelled to be the first in line Monday to view the body of the civil rights leader the Rev. Benjamin Hooks during visitation in Detroit.
Clipper, 23, who is to start classes at University of Detroit-Mercy in August, said her success comes from the work of people like Hooks, a former Detroit pastor and the former executive director of the NAACP. Hooks died Thursday in Memphis, Tenn., following a long illness. He was 88.
Clipper pointed out that Hooks was turned away from every law school in Tennessee and others in the South before attending DePaul in Chicago, from which he graduated in 1948. He was appointed in 1965 to Tennessee’s criminal court — becoming the first black judge in a trial court in any Southern state.
“Even though doors were shut on him, he never gave up,” she said. “I feel like I need to pay my respects because I stand on so many shoulders, and I can accomplish what I can because of people like him and Rosa Parks.”
She was one of many who said good-bye to Hooks as he lay in repose Monday at Greater New Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, the Detroit church where he was a pastor from 1964 to 1994. He traveled to Michigan twice a month from his home in Tennessee to lead Sunday services.
The first African-American member of the Federal Communications Commission in 1972, Hooks took over as executive director of the struggling NAACP in 1977 and restored pride — and membership — to the organization before stepping down in 1992.
Hooks’ nephew Michael Hooks Jr. said the response in the form of well-wishes from dignitaries and those who simply admired his uncle has been overwhelming.
“Not only the people in the higher places but the people in low places coming out to pay their respects. It’s touching,” he said.
Judges gathered in front of the church for a photo to commemorate Hooks’ passing and to pay their respects.
Hooks’ body was to be transported to the Memphis church he led for 50 years for viewing there today.
A funeral is to be held Wednesday at Bountiful Blessings Temple of Deliverance COGIC in Memphis.
Memorial contributions may be made in Hooks’ name to Greater New Mt. Moriah, 586 Owen St., Detroit 48202.
Source:freep.com/ TAMMY STABLES BATTAGLIA