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Julia Britton Hooks

October 6, 2010 in 1920s-30s, Social history

Julia Britton Hooks

Julia B. Hooks, MemphisHistory.com

Julia Britton Hooks lived a life dedicated to helping others. Born in Frankfort, Kentucky, she went on to attend Berea College and was only the second African American woman to graduate from college. Afterwards she went on to teach at Berea College and was the first African American employee of the school teaching music for two years. She was honored with the John G. Fee award from Berea College which honors alumni who gave distinguished service to the community. Hooks eventually moved to Memphis where she founded the Hooks School of Music. 

Known as “The Angel of Beale Street” in Memphis Julie and her husband, Charles F. Hooks, took charge of a detention home for juvenile African American offenders in 1902. Like I said, Julia was dedicated to helping others throughout her life and she continued to work for the institution even after her husband was murdered by one of the juveniles. 

Hooks was also a member of the Memphis branch of the NAACP. Julia’s impact must have ran through her family, because her grandson Benjamin Hooks became executive director of the NAACP in 1977 and served for fifteen years. Julia lived a life of servitude and should be recognized for all of her accomplishments and what she brought to the people around her. As her grandson put it “what trials, what travails, what tribulations we have seen, yet my grandmother had this great sense of duty, and of education.

2 responses to Julia Britton Hooks

  1. Being only the second African American to graduate from college is amazing enough, but the fact that she did all the other amazing things in her life like taking charge of the detention home for juvenile African American offenders is awesome. Definitely someone to look up to.

  2. Julia Britton Hooks also had sadness in her life. In 1891, her 23 year old sister Hattie Britton committed suicide when Julia’s husband, Charles Hooks, accused Hattie of immorality, or so that was the newspaper version of the story. [source: "Accused Of Immorality A Young Women Shoots Herself Instead of Going to Church," Topeka Plaindealer, 06/12/1891, p.1]

    In 1913, Charles Hooks was killed by one of the boys in the juvenile home. [source: Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture]

    **Both sources are available online, the Topeka Plaindealer is within the African American Newspaper database at UK, and the Tennessee Encyclopedia is on the web.**

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