- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 13, 2005

C. Delores Tucker, a prominent civil rights activist and champion of equal rights and women in politics, died Wednesday at Suburban Woods Health and Rehabilitation Center in Norristown, Pa., after a yearlong battle with heart illness. She was 78.

Mrs. Tucker was the first black woman to serve as Pennsylvania’s secretary of state, in the 1970s, and was a founder and immediate past chairwoman of the National Congress of Black Women, formerly the National Political Congress of Black Women, based in Silver Spring.

But she stepped into the national spotlight in 1993, when she began campaigning against obscenity and misogyny in rap music lyrics and videos.

“She just wanted the music to be more positive, with a message, and she befriended many of our young people making rap music,” said E. Faye Williams, interim chairwoman of the National Congress of Black Women.

In the early 1990s, Mrs. Tucker said “gangsta” rap by groups such as N.W.A. and “porno” rap by groups such as 2 Live Crew were corrupting black youth and led the fight against such music, including advocating its censorship on radio and television.

“Most people didn’t want to hear that or hear her complain about it, saying it was art and music. But she was fierce at that, and I hope that doesn’t get washed away,” said Julian Bond, executive chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Born Cynthia Delores Nottage on Oct. 4, 1927, in Philadelphia, she was the 10th of 11 children of the Rev. Whitfield Nottage and Captilda Gardiner Nottage.

Mrs. Tucker attended Temple University, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Pennsylvania. She married construction company owner William Tucker in 1951.

She got her start as a civil rights activist at 16, when she led a rally against Philadelphia’s Bellevue-Stratford Hotel because it refused entrance to black athletes.

Mr. Bond, who met Mrs. Tucker in the 1960s when she was involved in Pennsylvania politics, said she was hard to miss in a crowd because she always sported a colorful turban.

A tireless feminist, Mrs. Tucker also was a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee’s Black Caucus.

“When I ran for political office in Georgia, there were other black men who I could look to,” said Mr. Bond, a former member of Georgia’s House of Representatives and Senate. “But she was among the first to show black women that they could do it, too.”

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s nonvoting congressional representative, said that may be Mrs. Tucker’s greatest legacy.

” ‘C,’ as we called her, was a brilliant leader and organizer of everything she touched, and she touched every important cause of her time and left her signature on them all,” Mrs. Norton said.

“We in the District particularly feel the loss to [her husband] Bill and his family, because C spent so many good years living in the District doing endless good works for the people of this city,” Mrs. Norton said.

Mrs. Tucker is survived by her husband.

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