Public Relations Legend Ofield Dukes Dead at 79

The trailblazer died from a rare form of cancer.

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Washington, D.C., public relations legend Ofield Dukes died from multiple myeloma, a rare form of bone cancer, at the age of 79 in his hometown of Detroit.

The trailblazing founder of Ofield Dukes & Associates was the public relations go-to man for African and African-American political figures, civil rights leaders and entertainers; consulted with every Democratic presidential candidate since 1968; and counted Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross as clients, to name just a few.

"We are extremely saddened by the loss of our dear friend," President of the National Association of Black Journalists Gregory Lee Jr. told the Washington Post. "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."

At his company's peak, Dukes had annual billings of more than $1 million. He also had big-name clients like AT&T, CBS Records and the Treasury Department.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer released a statement on his passing:

"I was saddened to learn of the passing this week of Ofield Dukes, a pioneer for African Americans in the public relations industry. Through his work, he helped connect businesses, government officials, and candidates with the African American community and built bridges in the process. Mr. Dukes’s service in the Johnson Administration’s Committee on Equal Opportunity Employment, support of the Congressional Black Caucus, and leadership in making Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national holiday have left a lasting impression on the way our government strives to be inclusive of and responsive to all its citizens. I join in mourning Mr. Dukes’s passing and offer my condolences to his family."

Read more at the Washington Post.

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