Dr. Benjamin Hooks was always partial to his hometown of Memphis, but he left a legacy in many other cities, including ours.
Dr. Hooks, who passed away today at the age of 85, was on the platform or in the vanguard during almost every important moment of the civil rights movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Between 1977 and 1992, he barnstormed around the country rebuilding the national NAACP as an organization of influence. He was, as well, a counsel to presidents, a lawyer of influence, a wise teacher, and a gifted writer. For the last decade, he has been a tireless crusader for children's health issues, particularly the dangers posed by the ingestion of lead.
It was Dr. Hooks to whom I turned for counsel when St. Louis dedicated itself to a systematic effort to eliminate childhood lead poisoning. In the first four years of our plan, we cut childhood lead poisoning in half. And we continue our efforts, still inspired by Dr. Hooks' passionate arguments to save the children.
The citizens of St. Louis owe Dr. Hooks a great deal for his career of service. I join the nation in mourning his passing.