Civil rights trailblazer, survivor of deadly Tulsa race riots dies at 103

Posted: Updated:

Residents of the Hudson Valley are mourning the passing of a historic civil rights trailblazer and survivor of the Tulsa race riot of 1921.

Civil rights activist Dr. Olivia Hooker passed away at 103 years old at her home in White Plains Wednesday.

According to, the Tulsa race riot is believed to be the single worst incident of racial violence in American history in which more than 1,000 homes and businesses were destroyed and an estimated 300 people were killed.

Neighbors Seth Segall and Sue Mirialakis say that it’s clear that witnessing and surviving the race riots had a profound impact on Hooker’s life.

"She told me once – when she was 10 years old and when the [Tusla race riots] were happening in front of her house in Oklahoma that her mother took her to the window and said, ‘Look at this. This is your country. Remember it!’” said Mirialakis. "I think there was a core inside of her, a very strong, independent core.”

"She's someone who went up and testified before Congress, she met with President Obama.  She's always wanted the country to do right and to make up for its past wrongs,” says Segall.

Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner describes Hooker as someone who was humble and grounded, but cared about her community until the very end.

Dr. Hooker is also known for her legacy as the first African-American woman to enlist in the Coast Guard and for establishing a successful career in psychology at Fordham University.

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."