Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, Philadelphia County
A former PA Secretary of State, C. Delores Tucker was a powerful force against violence in rap music in her later life.
Dr. C. Delores Tucker was born on October 4, 1927, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She served Pennsylvania as the Secretary of the Commonwealth. She marched with Dr. and Mrs. King for equality and founded the National Political Congress of Black Women. She committed her last days to protesting against rap music. She claimed that rap music’s influences on the younger generation were detrimental and should not be accepted. On October 12, 2005, Dr. C. Delores Tucker died in a rehabilitation center in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
Dr. C. Delores Tucker was born on October 4, 1927, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of Minister Whitfield and feminist Captilda Nottage. She was the tenth child among eleven Bahamian siblings. Her parents had a very strong faith in Christianity and encouraged their children to follow in their footsteps. As the result of their faith, the close knit family was often in church together, where young Tucker directed the choir and played the saxophone. She attended Temple University, but later dropped out to open an employment agency for Southern blacks, who had migrated north to Philadelphia. She also attended The Pennsylvania State University and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. She later received two honorary Doctor of Law degrees from Morris College in Alabama and Villa Maria College in Pennsylvania. In 1951, she married William Tucker, a construction company owner, who soon built a fortune in Philadelphia real estate. Although they never had any children, they raised their nieces and nephews. C. Delores Tucker, an activist, found a way to channel her drive in the late 1950s and early 1960s during the rise of the civil rights movement. She joined the NAACP and helped raise funds for the organization. She then marched with Reverend and Mrs. Martin Luther King Jr., joining in their call for freedom and equality. She was very passionate about this and knew they needed to march to make a change. Later on in the 1960s, she campaigned for black candidates and served on the Pennsylvania Democratic Committee. She was also the first-ever black member of the Philadelphia Zoning Board. Being on the Pennsylvania Democratic Committee led her to be named in January 1971 as the Secretary of the Commonwealth by then Governor Milton Shapp, making her the highest-ranking black woman in state government. She later was accused of using state workers and resources to produce speeches for which she received $65,000 in twenty eight months, forcing her out of her position. After this incident, she left state government for national politics. She went on to serve as chairman of the Black Caucus of the Democratic National Committee for eleven years and spoke at the Democratic National Convention five times. In 1984, C. Delores Tucker founded the National Political Congress of Black Women, which has grown in power and influence to advance the interest of the black community, especially its women. Its main concerns are voter registration, education and equity, welfare reform, and fair and adequate legal services for everyone. The organization has involved itself in broad national issues as well as small local issues, including reform of the music industry. During the last few years of her life, Tucker dedicated her life to removing sexual explicit lyrics from rap and hip pop tracks after she saw the effect such language had on her nieces and nephews. She described one niece who parroted the bad language she heard in the songs to the point where she becatme a social leper ate age 18. This enraged Dr. Tucker, who zealously fought back. She paid attention to rap songs, especially those written by Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur. She began protesting and demonstrating in front of record shops. She continued her fight by buying stock in Time Warner Inc., a massive entertainment company that owns records, magazines, movies, television stations, and other forms of entertainment. Having bought stock in the company enabled her to be part of the company annual shareholders’ meeting. At the meetings, she took the microphone and challenged the executives to read aloud the lyrics from albums sold by Interscope Records, a distributor owned in part by Time Warner. At this point Tucker was joined by Bill Bennett, former Secretary of Education, and Senator Joseph Lieberman. They took their complaints to the media condemning Time Warner and other purveyors of rap. This captured Time Warner’s attention, so much so that they decided to schedule a private meeting. Time Warner executives defended the sale of gangster rap because according to them suppressing it would be censorship and a violation of the artists’ rights under the First Amendment. Mrs. Tucker responded by saying “they are putting Profit before Principle.” She went on to say “you can’t listen to all that language and filth without it affecting you.” Then in September 2000, she appeared on CNN’s Crossfire. She responded to an audience member question about hip-hop music and artistic freedom. She carefully acknowledged that “while artists do have the right to create works of art, they do not have the right to stereotypically record music or do anything objectionable to any group.” Dr. C. Delores Tucker was a hard worker. At a time when most women retire, she continued to take on tasks that were important to society. She died on October 12, 2005, in Norristown, Pennsylvania, at the age of seventy-eight. She died from heart aliments and a lung condition.
“C. Delores Tucker.” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (Autumn, 2005): 59.
Johnson, Anne Janette. “C. Delores Tucker.” Contemporary Black Biography. Vol. 12. Detroit: Gale, 1996. 215-218.