C DeLores Tucker, a lifetime champion of civil rights and women’s rights, died yesterday at the age of 78. Dr. Tucker was the first African American and the first woman to hold the position of Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1971, the first African-American woman to be vice chair of Pennsylvania’s Democratic Party, and the first woman vice president of the Pennsylvania NAACP. In 1984, Dr. Tucker founded the National Political Congress of Black Women (now the National Congress of Black Women) in order to encourage more African-American woman to run for office.
“I fought alongside C. DeLores on civil rights and women’s rights for over 30 years,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation and a longtime friend and ally of Dr. Tucker’s. “In every campaign she took on, she tirelessly and steadfastly fought for women and African Americans. Her determination, commitment, and sheer force of will kept causes alive and moving forward that most would have thought hopeless. We picketed in the rain to clean up the music industry, we marched for women’s rights, and we took on the Democratic Party to increase representation of women and minorities. Right to the end, she mustered her energy to ensure Sojourner Truth would be added to the suffragist statue in the Capitol.”
At the recent annual breakfast of the National Congress of Black Women, Tucker was saluted by many African-American women members of Congress, including Shelia Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (D-OH), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Diane Watson (D-CA), as well as Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun and Dorothy Height, president emerita of the National Council of Negro Women. The Congresswomen asked Dr. Tucker’s husband, Bill, to take the message back to Dr. Tucker, who was too ill to attend, that the necessary steps would be taken by Congress to include Sojourner Truth in the statue.
Tucker is survived by her husband, Bill, of 60 years, who has steadfastly supported her in all of her struggles to further the rights of African Americans and women.