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Benjamin Hooks the longtime Civil rights leader and the former executive director of the NAACP has died.

State Rep. Ulysses Jones who was a member of the church where Hooks was pastor, told news outlets that  leader died early Thursday at his home, following a long illness.

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in 2007 and helped the NAACP create an initiative to expand employment opportunities for blacks in Major League Baseball.

Hooks was 85.

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