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In Memoriam: C. DeLores Tucker

October 13, 2005

C. DeLores Tucker in the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery March
Tucker (3rd from left) marched for civil rights with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (4th from left) in the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery March.

Our movement lost a visionary leader yesterday, with the passing of Dr. C. DeLores Tucker, a tireless activist for women's rights and civil rights. "She had as heart as big as Pennsylvania, yet she was absolutely determined and unflappable. Whatever the issue, she had a laser-like focus on what needed to be done and you just couldn't say 'no' to her," said NOW President Kim Gandy.

Dr. Tucker marched from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., side-by-side with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1965 and soon became the first African-American women to serve as a Secretary of State (Pennsylvania, 1971-1977). Her efforts helped make Pennsylvania one of the first states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. As a member of the Democratic National Committee, Dr. Tucker was deeply involved in efforts to ensure that women were equally represented at all levels of the Democratic party, and she was a primary organizer of the women's caucus.

C. DeLores Tucker at the 2003 Interepid Awards Gala
Tucker attended NOW's 2003 Intrepid Awards Gala.
She was the founding chair in 1984 of the National Political Congress of Black Women, and succeeded the late Hon. Shirley Chisholm as national chair of the organization, now called the National Congress of Black Women, in 1992. As Chair of the NCBW, Dr. Tucker led the fight to include suffrage leader Sojourner Truth in the unfinished "portrait monument" at the Capitol, which depicts only white suffrage leaders, and through her efforts, legislation to accomplish this mission was introduced by Rep. Major Owens and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. She also led a public campaign against "gangsta rap" and misogynistic lyrics, which brought the wrath of record producers and performers like Tupac Shakur — but, as always, she was not deterred.

C. DeLores Tucker enriched our lives with her love and commitment, and she leaves an enormous legacy. Our sympathy and condolences go out to her devoted husband of many decades, William "Bill" Tucker, who was always by her side and ours.

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