C. DeLores Tucker has a complex legacy. Some remember her as the renowned civil rights activist and politician who marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s and helped advance women’s and voting rights.
Others remember her as the woman who made it her personal mission to eradicate gangsta rap and drew ire from hip-hop legends like Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg, as well as Death Row Records founder Suge Knight, in the 1990s.
Whether one remembers Tucker as the former or the latter largely depends on what generation they were born. However, both descriptions are true of the woman who was unafraid to fight for what she thought was right, regardless of the consequences.
Here are nine things to know about C. DeLores Tucker and her moral crusade against gangsta rap.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Tucker was the 10th of 11 children born to Bahamian Baptist Minister Whitfield Nottage and Captilda Gardiner Nottage, who she described as a “Christian feminist.”
Tucker was very active in the civil rights movement as a feminist and politician, according to the Philadelphia Tribune. As early as age 16, she protested against a hotel in Philadelphia that refused to serve Black athletes, the New York Times reported.
She also worked with the NAACP for more than 50 years and marched alongside Dr. King in 1965 from Selma to Montgomery.
In 1971, C. DeLores Tucker made history as the first Black woman to serve as Pennsylvania’s secretary of state. She was appointed by then-Gov. Milton Shapp.
During her six years in the job, Tucker is credited with streamlining voter registration, creating the first Commission on the Status of Women in the state and appointing more women and Black people to judgeships, boards and commissions than ever before.
Tucker was fired by Shapp after being accused of using her position for personal gain. According to the Los Angeles Times, Shapp said that Tucker had state employees write speeches she was paid $65,000 for in honorariums, including from charities under her supervision.
However, Tucker denied the claims. “The only reason I got fired was because I refused to support someone the governor had designated as his heir who was going to dismantle the affirmative action program I fought so hard to put in,” Tucker told the Times.
In 1984, Tucker partnered with U.S. Rep. Shirley Chisholm – who made history as the first Black woman to run for president – to found the National Congress of Black Women (NCBW).
The nonprofit is dedicated to advancing women in politics, education and society at large and still has a few chapters across the country.
Tucker also helped found the Philadelphia Martin Luther King Jr. Association for Nonviolence Inc. in 1983, the African-American Women for Reproductive Freedom in 1990 and the Bethune-DuBois Institute in 1991.
After hearing one of her nieces recite vulgar language from a rap song, Tucker took up the cause of eradicating gangta rap in the 1990s. She condemned the violent, misogynist and sexually-explicit lyrics as “sleazy, pornographic smut.”
“I am here to put the nation on notice that violence perpetuated against women through the music industry in the forms of gangsta rap and misogynist lyrics will not be tolerated any longer,” Tucker once passionately said while speaking at a hearing. “Principle must come before profit.”
“Today, however, through the lyrics of rappers who display no respect for women, no respect for families and little respect for themselves, the souls of our sisters are being destroyed and so too their progeny,” Tucker said.
She described gangsta rap as “negative media that distorts their images of male/ female relationships [and] that undermines the stability of our families, communities and nation by encouraging violence, abuse and sexism as acceptable behaviors and perpetuates a cycle of low self-esteem of African-American youth.”
She used artwork from Snoop Dogg’s debut album “Doggy Style” to make her point. “You want to know why I’m on the warpath, when I saw this, I said, ‘That’s it.’ We march again and we’re gonna keep on marching and demonstrating,” Tucker said pointing to the images that showed characters performing sexual positions.
C. DeLores Tucker famously purchased stock in Time Warner (now known as Warner Media, which was Sony’s parent company) so she could protest gangsta rap lyrics at an annual shareholder meeting.
Tucker asked company leaders to read the lyrics out loud, but they refused.
Although Tucker was a loyal Democrat, she reached across the aisle in her fight against gansta rap. Some of her supporters included Republicans Bob Dole and William J. Bennett.
Tucker was heavily condemned by many hip-hop artists for her activism including Tupac Shakur, Jay-Z, Eminem, Lil’ Kim and more.
In his song “How Do You Want It,” Shakur rhymes “Delores Tucker, you’s a mother**ka, instead of trying to help a nigga you destroy a brotha, . . . you too old to understand the way the game’s told.”
In “Wonda Why They Call U B**ch,” Shakur says, “Dear Ms. Delores Tucker, you keep stressin’ me, f**kin with a mother**kin’ mind. I figured you wanted to know, you know, why we call them ho’s bitches … It’s strictly business, baby, strictly business.”
“I don’t care if you’re C. Dolores Tucker or you’re Bill O’Reilly, you only riling me up,” Jay-Z rapped on his song “Threat.” Lil Kim chimed in on her song “Rockin’ It,” after Tucker called her music “gangsta porno rap.”
“C. Delores T., Screw her, I never knew her,” Lil’ Kim said.
Tucker responded to Tupac’s songs by suing his estate and record companies for $10 million dollars a year after he was murdered in 1997. She filed a defamation lawsuit in federal District Court, claiming Tupac portrayed her as a traitor and she was not.
In her argument, Tucker noted Shakur’s fans saw him as a “god” and as a result of his songs, wanted to “eliminate” her, according to Reporter’s Committee.
The lawsuit was dismissed and the decision was upheld when Tucker appealed.
Hip-hop artists weren’t the only ones coming for Tucker. Death Row Records head Suge Knight also sued Tucker and hired a private investigator to uncover elements of her life to support his claims that she was on her crusade for personal gain.
Knight accused Tucker of trying to “persuade him to yield creative and financial control of his label,” the LA Times reported.
“The lawsuit alleges that Tucker asked Knight to sign a document … designating her as Death Row’s exclusive representative to negotiate a new ‘clean’ rap venture that she said would be financed by Time Warner,” The Times wrote.
He accused her of misrepresenting herself. “DeLores Tucker is a hoax,” Knight told the Times. “She pretends to care about the black community, but if you look into her history, you find she was a slumlord. She pretends to want to help young black males, but she’s trying to destroy a company owned and run by them. She pretends to be a doctor. But hey, she’s about as much of a doctor as Dr. Dre is.”
Tucker maintained she was operating in integrity and out of concern for the Black community.
“The lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt to stop me from going after gangsta rap,” Tucker said. “Sure, we talked with Suge Knight, but the allegations in the suit are just lies.”
Tucker died at age 78 in 2005. In hindsight, some who once criticized her are now celebrating her views.
PHOTO: C. DeLores Tucker of the National Political Congress of Black Women, holds a copy of the cover of Tupac Shakur’s album “Makaveli” during a news conference, Dec. 10, 1996, to discuss “gangsta rap.” Tucker, along with former Education Secretary William Bennett, said that the album’s distributor, Universal Studios, violated a commitment not to distribute profane or violent music. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)