Cynthia Delores Tucker

(October 4, 1927 – October 12, 2005)

An American politician and civil rights activist perhaps best known for her participation in the Civil Rights Movement and her stance against gangsta rap music beginning in the early 1990s.

Early life and education

Born in Philadelphia to Minister Whitfield Nottage and "Christian feminist mother" Captilda Gardiner Nottage from the Bahamas on October 4, 1927. Tucker was the tenth of thirteen children. Tucker attended Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business. Tucker was later the recipient of two honorary doctoral degrees  from Morris College in Sumter, South Carolina and California State University Northridge in California, and for this reason, she is sometimes referred to as "Dr. C. Delores Tucker".

Career

Civil activities

Early on, her civil activities included participating in the 1965 march in Selma, Alabama alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and raising funds for the NAACP.

 

In 1990, Tucker, along with 15 other African American women and men, formed the African-American Women for Reproductive Freedom.

 

She was the convening founder and national chair of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. (NCBW), having succeeded the Hon. Shirley Chisholm in 1992.

 

Tucker was responsible for the Governor's appointment of more women judges and more women, and African Americans, to boards and commissions than ever before.

 

She also led the effort to make Pennsylvania one of the first states to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.

 

As Chief of Elections of Pennsylvania, she was a leader in instituting a voter registration by mail and reducing the voting age from 21 to 18 years of age.

Political

In 1971, Tucker became the first black female Secretary of State when Pennsylvania Governor Milton Shapp appointed her Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. During her tenure, she instituted the first Commission on the Status of Women. She was founder and president of the Bethune-DuBois Institute, Inc., which she established in 1991 to promote the cultural development of African American youth through scholarships and educational programs. Tucker also launched, and served as publisher of the publication, Vital Issues: The Journal of African American Speeches.

 

Hip–Hop/Rap music

Tucker dedicated much of the last few years of her life to condemning sexually explicit lyrics in rap and hip-hop tracks, citing a concern that the lyrics were misogynistic and threatened the moral foundation of the African American community. Called "narrow-minded" by some rappers who often mentioned her in their lyrics, Tucker picketed stores that sold rap music and bought stock in SonyTime Warner, and other companies in order to protest hip-hop at their shareholders' meetings. She also fought against the NAACP's decision to nominate late rapper Tupac Shakur for one of its Image Awards and filed a $10 million lawsuit against his estate for comments that the rapper made in his song "How Do U Want It?". This case was eventually dismissed.

 

Accolades

Selected as one of 25 of the World's Most Intriguing People by People magazine, Tucker was also selected as a People Magazine 1996 Yearbook Honoree, and was featured in the inaugural issue of John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s George magazine for her crusade against gangsta rap. In addition, she has been acknowledged for her deep concern for children by First Lady Hillary Clinton in the book It Takes A Village. The National Women's Political Caucus and Redbook also named her as the woman best qualified to be Ambassador to the United Nations. For five consecutive years, from 1972 through 1977, she was listed as among Ebony magazine's 100 Most Influential Black Americans. During that period, she was listed as Ladies Home Journal Nominee for Woman of the Year in both 1975 and 1976. She was recognized by Ebony as one of the '100 Most Influential Black Organization Leaders' in the country in 2001 and 2002. Tucker was also a prominent member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. On April 25, 2006, a state historical marker honoring Tucker was unveiled by Bill Tucker and Governor Ed Rendell in a ceremony at the State Museum of Pennsylvania, in Harrisburg. In addition, it was announced that the North Building, which is adjacent to the State Capitol Building, was to be renamed the Secretary C. Delores Tucker Building. The state marker, which was commissioned by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, was installed outside the entrance to the building.

 

The marker reads:

C. Delores Tucker
1927—2005

Civil rights leader and activist for women,

she was the first African American Secretary of State in the nation.
Championed the Pennsylvania Equal Rights Amendment and policies on

affirmative action, voter registration by mail, and lowering the voting age to 18.

Spearheaded the creation of the Commission on the Status of Women &
led a successful crusade critical of the music industry and lyrics demeaning to
women, African Americans, and children.

Personal

In 1951, Tucker married William "Bill" Tucker, a successful Philadelphia real estate agent and she herself worked in real estate and insurance sales early in her career. Tucker had no children. Tucker died on Wednesday, October 12, 2005 at Suburban Woods Health Center in Norristown, Pennsylvania at the age of 78.

© 2015 by National Congress of Black Women proudly created in collaboration with SLS Group, LLC

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