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C. Delores Tucker
C. Delores Tucker.jpg
Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
In office
January 20, 1971 – September 21, 1977
Governor Milton Shapp
Preceded by Joseph Kelley
Succeeded by Barton Fields
Personal details
Cynthia Delores Nottage

(1927-10-04)October 4, 1927
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died October 12, 2005(2005-10-12) (aged 78)
Norristown, Pennsylvania, United States
Political party Democratic
William Tucker
(m. 1951⁠–⁠2005)
Alma mater Temple University
The Wharton School
  • Politician
  • civil rights activist

Cynthia Delores Tucker (née Nottage; October 4, 1927 – October 12, 2005) was an American politician and civil rights activist. She had a long history of involvement in the American Civil Rights Movement. From the 1990s onward, she engaged in a campaign against gangsta rap music.

Early life and education

Tucker's house on Lincoln Drive in Philadelphia

Born in Philadelphia to a minister Whitfield Nottage from the Bahamas and a "Christian feminist mother" Captilda Gardiner Nottage from the Bahamas on October 4, 1927, Tucker was the tenth of thirteen children. Tucker attended Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business. Tucker was later the recipient of two honorary doctoral degrees from Morris College in Sumter, South Carolina, Baptist Training Union in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and California State University Northridge in California, and for this reason, she is sometimes referred to as "Dr. C. Delores Tucker".


Civil activities

Tucker had a long history in the Civil Rights Movement. Early on, her civil activities included participating in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and raising funds for the NAACP. In 1990, Tucker, along with 15 other African American women and men, formed the African-American Women for Reproductive Freedom. She was the convening founder and national chair of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. (NCBW), having succeeded the Hon. Shirley Chisholm in 1992.

Tucker also was responsible for the Governor's appointment of more women judges and more women and African Americans to boards and commissions than ever before. She also led the effort to make Pennsylvania one of the first states to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. As Chief of Elections of Pennsylvania, she was a leader in instituting a voter registration by mail and reducing the voting age from 21 to 18 years of age.


In 1971, Tucker became the first black female Secretary of State when Pennsylvania Governor Milton Shapp appointed her Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. During her tenure, she instituted the first Commission on the Status of Women. Shapp fired Tucker in September 1977 for allegedly using state employees to write speeches for which she received honorariums. Two years later, one of Tucker's successors as Secretary of the Commonwealth, Dr. Ethel D. Allen, would also be fired for using public employees to write speeches.

She was the founder and president of the Bethune-DuBois Institute, Inc., which she established in 1991 to promote the cultural development of African American youth through scholarships and educational programs. Tucker also launched, and served as publisher of the publication, Vital Issues: The Journal of African American Speeches.


In 1988 she made an extended appearance on a British television discussion programme, After Dark.

Hip-hop/rap music

Further information: Misogyny in rap music

Tucker dedicated much of the last few years of her life to criticizing lyrics in rap and hip-hop tracks, citing a concern that the lyrics were misogynistic and threatened the moral foundation of the African American community.

Called "narrow-minded" by some rappers who often mentioned her in their lyrics, Tucker picketed stores that sold rap music and bought stock in Sony, Time Warner, and other companies in order to protest hip-hop at their shareholders' meetings.


Selected as one of 25 of the World's Most Intriguing People by People magazine, Tucker was also selected as a People Magazine 1996 Yearbook Honoree, and was featured in the inaugural issue of John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s George magazine for her crusade against gangsta rap. In addition, she has been acknowledged for her deep concern for children by First Lady Hillary Clinton in the book It Takes A Village. The National Women's Political Caucus and Redbook also named her as the woman best qualified to be Ambassador to the United Nations.

For five consecutive years, from 1972 through 1977, she was listed as among Ebony magazine's 100 Most Influential Black Americans. During that period, she was listed as Ladies Home Journal Nominee for Woman of the Year in both 1975 and 1976. She was recognized by Ebony as one of the '100 Most Influential Black Organization Leaders' in the country in 2001 and 2002. Tucker was also a prominent member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

On April 25, 2006, a state historical marker honoring Tucker was unveiled by Bill Tucker and Governor Ed Rendell in a ceremony at the State Museum of Pennsylvania, in Harrisburg. In addition, it was announced that the North Building, which is adjacent to the State Capitol Building, was to be renamed the Secretary C. Delores Tucker Building. The state marker, which was commissioned by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, was installed outside the entrance to the building. The marker reads:

C. Delores Tucker


Civil rights leader and activist for
women, she was the first African American
Secretary of State in the nation.
Championed the PA Equal Rights Amendment
and policies on affirmative action, voter
registration by mail, and lowering the
voting age to 18. Spearheaded the creation
of the Commission on the Status of Women &
led a successful crusade critical of the
music industry and lyrics demeaning to
women, African Americans, and children.

Personal life and death

In 1951, Tucker married William Tucker, a successful Philadelphia real estate agent. Tucker herself had worked in real estate and insurance sales early in her career. Tucker had no children. She died on Wednesday, October 12, 2005, at Suburban Woods Health Center in Norristown, Pennsylvania, at the age of 78. She is interred at West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, PA.

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