From her role in the 1965 Civil Rights marches alongside Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to her career as the highest-ranking African-American women in state government, C. Delores Tucker understood perseverance. Following her tenure as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Commonwealth, Tucker continued to advocate for women and African Americans. She instituted the first Commission on the Status of Women, a global body dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. She was founder and president of the Bethune-DuBois Institute Inc., an organization that promotes the cultural development of African American youth through educational programs. In addition, Tucker co-founded the National Congress of Black Women Inc., and was named the organization’s chair in 1992.
This week’s Pennsylvania Treasure, selected by CAP Curator Carol Buck, is a paperweight Pennsylvania Gov. Milton Shapp gave to Tucker during her time as Secretary of the Commonwealth. The memento includes a personalized note from Shapp which reads, “Delores, many thanks for what you have done. You’re the spark-plug of this administration.” The paperweight will appear with other Tucker items in the upcoming Pennsylvania Icons exhibit.
One of Tucker’s most public challenges began in 1993 when she initiated a campaign against violent, sexist, demeaning and obscene lyrics found in rap music. Her efforts lead to a backlash from rap artists who rushed to record music containing lyrics directed at Tucker. Undeterred by the attacks, she filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against the estate of rapper Tupac Shakur in 1996. Tucker received death threats and was countersued by two record companies. Eventually, her lawsuit was taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court and later dismissed.
Tucker lived her last years fighting for her beliefs before passing away in 2005. Once, her husband was quoted as saying that Tucker was “one of the most fearless individuals I have ever known. She will take on anyone, anything, if that is what she thinks is right. . . . I tell her there are times you have to compromise, but she is not one who will readily entertain the idea of compromise about anything.”
About Pennsylvania Icons:
Featuring a diverse array of artifacts from the collections of the State Museum of Pennsylvania and other Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission historic sites and museums, Pennsylvania Icons tells the story of our commonwealth, its people and the role they played in shaping the nation. The exhibit features historic artifacts ranging from a 1654 map of the Philadelphia region to pieces of the Walnut Street bridge in Harrisburg. Pennsylvania Icons opens to the public on Sunday, November 8, 2015.
About Pennsylvania Treasures:
In early 2012, The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission launched the Collections Advancement Project (CAP), a program to inventory and catalog our vast and significant holdings of art and artifacts. These efforts are resulting in better stewardship of our collections which represent Pennsylvania arts, culture, history, sciences, business and agriculture. As a component of the project, CAP curators have researched rarely exhibited artifacts and works of art. We are sharing these Pennsylvania Treasures with the public through weekly updates.