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Sunday, February 6, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Black Activist Crusades Against `Gangsta' Rap -- C. Delores Tucker `Ready To Die' For Cause

Knight-Ridder Newspapers

In the 1960s, C. DeLores Tucker saw the civil-rights struggle mostly in black and white.

The Ku Klux Klan, racist white governors and white sheriffs with attack dogs were "the enemy" of black Americans.

But now, 30 years later, African Americans have an enemy within, says Tucker.

They are the black "gangsta" rappers who degrade African Americans, especially women, with their lyrics.

Tucker, chairwoman of the National Political Congress of Black Women, says she is "ready to go to jail, ready to die, whatever is necessary to stop this pornographic filth" from getting to children.

Among the rap lyrics she finds offensive are these by the Geto Boys:

"Her body's beautiful

"so I'm thinkin' rape

"Shouldn't have had her curtains

"open so that's her fate . . .

"Slit her throat

"and watch her shake."

"I'm angry," she said recently, a day after she was arrested for the third time in three weeks for picketing Washington, D.C., record stores.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream of having children live, play and go to school together.

But now children are afraid to go to school, Tucker said.

"They're not afraid because of the enemy he (King) had to fight, but because of their own brothers and sisters who are paid to glorify drugs and guns, to call black women obscene names," she said.

Tucker's newest crusade began in the fall, which makes her a late arrival in the war on rap lyrics.

But her presence has begun to attract national attention, and she has won support from the Congressional Black Caucus, Black Entertainment Television, Billboard Magazine, Inner City Broadcasting Corp., the NAACP and the National Rainbow Coalition, among others.

Earlier this month she organized a protest against the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for nominating rapper Tupac Shakur for one of its Image Awards.

Shakur has been charged with sexually assaulting a 20-year-old female fan in New York and with shooting two Atlanta police officers in a traffic dispute.

She picketed the awards (Shakur did not win).

Outspoken to a fault, Tucker, 64, has occasionally shocked people with her pronouncements.

After the Persian Gulf War, she told a TV interviewer:

"We spent $500 billion on that war on Iraq, and Hussein still lives. We could have spent $6,000 and sent the boys in the 'hood over there, and they would have taken care of Hussein and taken care of him permanently."

One of Tucker's best known off-the-cuff remarks dates to 1977, when she was fired as Pennsylvania's commonwealth secretary by Gov. Milton Shapp, who had appointed her.

After Shapp removed her for pocketing about $65,000 in fees for speeches, some of them written by state employees, Tucker excused herself by saying, "Maybe it is wrong, but it is a way of life."

Tucker attended Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

She was the first African American and the first woman to serve as commonwealth secretary, and during her tenure she helped to streamline the voter-registration process, reduce minimum-residency requirements for elections, lower the voting age from age 21 to 18 and create a state Commission on the Status of Women.

When she was fired, her supporters rallied around her. African-American leaders, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, called her dismissal racially and politically motivated.

A passionate speaker with a knack for publicity, she has earned the respect of civil-rights activists.

When King marched in Selma, Ala., in 1965, she was at his side.

"It is a sad thing," said Tucker. "Dr. King's dream has become a nightmare, not only for our children but for their parents and our whole society. People are frightened and fearful because of the culture of the gangstas.

"And I know he would be walking with me as I walked with him . . . for these young souls are being paid (by record companies) to carry the messages of hate he went to jail for and died for to stop."

Two weeks ago in Washington she led her second demonstration against a Sam Goody music store. She and about 30 supporters carried signs that read "Gangsta rap is rape" and "Ban gangsta rap."

After two warnings by police, she was arrested on charges of unlawful conduct, put in handcuffs, fined $25 and released.

She insisted she has no quarrel with rap itself.

"The music is great. The beat is terrific. But let's stop the pornographic language," she said.

Asked if she wants federal legislation banning the sale to children of violent or sexually graphic lyrics and album jackets, she replied, "I'll take the position of (U.S. Attorney General) Janet Reno, who said about violent video games: `If the industry doesn't clean itself up, we'll have to look at doing it.' "

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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