C. Delores Tucker, Civil Rights Activist who also campaigned fervently against rap music
By Shola Adenekan
C. Delores Tucker was one of the most renowned civil rights activists in the turbulence racial tension that marked the 1950s and 60s America.
She was also a tireless advocate for rights of American women and marched alongside Martin Luther King Jnr in the memorable Selma to Montgomery march in 1965.
In the early 1990s, she brought her outspokenness into her campaign against profanity and misogyny in rap music. She gained the support of many in the American political establishment, including Tipper Gore, the wife of the then vice president.
A tall elegant woman, who spoke with a stirring cadence inherited from her clergy father, she was born Cynthia Delores Nottage on October 4, 1927, the 10th of eleven children.
Tucker first made her mark, aged 16, from the back of a truck when she led a protest against a Philadelphia hotel’s refusal to admit a group of visiting black athletes.
She attended Temple University and in 1951 married William Tucker, a real estate magnate.
In the 1960s she campaigned for black political candidates nationwide and rose to become the highest ranked black woman in US politics when she was made the secretary of state for Pennsylvania. She was also the first to hold such position.
During this period, her effort led to the passing of Equal Rights Amendments by many states, she also helped institute voter registration by mail and reducing the voting age to 18.
She rose to become a senior member of the Democratic Party, chairing the party’s Black Caucus for 11 years and she helped formed the party’s women wing.
Perhaps, Tucker’s biggest claim to fame was her campaign against gangsta rap music and the genre’s sexually explicit lyrics, which she said were misogynistic and threatened the moral foundation of the black community. She linked offensive rap music to black-on-black violence and called for more positive portrayal of the black community in the music industry.
She picketed music stores and at one point bought shares of Time-Warner stock and rose at the company’s 1995 annual general meeting to demand the company’s record executives read out the lyrics on rap records, which they declined.
Her vocal attacks offended many rappers, including the late Tupac Shakur who ridiculed her in one of his songs.
In retaliation, she sued the estate of the rap artiste after he was killed in 1996.
While her views won her support among the conservative right, her campaign caused intense debate among many African Americans, some of whom found her approach narrow-minded.
A recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees, she is survived by her husband.
She died on October 12, 2005