D.C. public relations trailblazer Ofield Dukes died Wednesday in his hometown of Detroit at the Henry Ford Hospital after enduring a long battle with multiple myeloma, a a rare form of bone cancer. He was 79.
“We are extremely saddened by the loss of our dear friend,” said Gregory Lee Jr., president of the National Association of Black Journalists. “Ofield Dukes revolutionized the public relations industry by increasing the visibility of African-Americans working in the field. Mr. Dukes will forever be regarded as a standard bearer for public relations professionals of all races. A true giant in the world of PR, he will truly be missed.”
Dukes founded Ofield Dukes & Associates in 1969, an African-American-owned public relations firm in D.C. He ran the firm for more than four decades before returning to Detroit in September.
He was considered among the nation’s biggest public relations giants and his firm specialized in minority — specifically African-American and African — and political affairs.
A graduate of Wayne State University, Dukes helped organize the first Congressional Black Caucus dinner in 1971. He also served on the boards of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Change, according to his Web site. He had been a communications consultant for every Democratic presidential campaign since l972.
But Dukes’s reach was felt beyond the PR industry. He taught public relations as an adjunct professor at Howard University for 25 years. He also taught at the American University for eight years.
He also became the first African-American to receive the Public Relations Society of America’s Gold Anvil, the highest award given in the public relations industry and founded the D.C. chapter of the Black Public Relations Society.
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