WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn today released the following statement after the passing of Civil Rights Leader Benjamin L. Hooks.

“Benjamin L. Hooks left his mark on American society.  He emerged as an inspiring leader during the civil rights movement leading boycotts and sit ins in Tennessee.  Later he blazed the way as the first African American criminal court judge in Tennessee and then became the first African American to head the Federal Communications Commission.  He went on to lead the NAACP for 16 years, and over his lifetime served as minister at Baptist churches in Memphis and Detroit.  His life and career was dedicated to bridging the gap between whites and blacks, by encouraging open discussion about the issues facing the African American community.  He stressed self-help among African Americans and encouraged blacks to give back to the community-words he lived by.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. I thank him for all that he did in giving back to the community and improving the lives of African Americans everywhere.”