New Orleans Agenda
Robert H. Tucker Jr., a prominent civil rights activist, successful businessperson, and dedicated community leader, passed away on March 1, 2023, at the age of 82. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on January 29, 1941, Robert was the second of three children born to Rev. Robert H. Tucker Sr. and Mattie Amacker Tucker.
Robert’s parents were both raised on self-sufficient farms in rural Louisiana before moving to New Orleans. His father became a successful mortician and owner of three funeral homes, and later served as an African Methodist Episcopal minister in Louisiana and Mississippi. Growing up in the segregated South, Robert learned about business, spirituality, and the struggles of being an African American man.
After graduating from Walter L. Cohen High School in the top 5% of his class, Robert received an academic scholarship to Clark College, now Clark Atlanta University, where he excelled academically, led student activism, and made history by participating in the first lunch counter sit-in in Atlanta. Robert’s leadership skills and public speaking ability led him to captain Clark College’s first debate team, which won tournaments over prestigious universities such as Harvard and Columbia. While at Clark, he joined the Beta Psi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated, and was elected and held national office as 2nd Vice Grand Basileus as an undergraduate. He graduated from Clark with honors in Political Science and Economics. He also attended the London School of Economics & Political Science and then later gained his master’s in business administration (MBA) from Tulane University.
Robert continued to make history after college by being one of the first African Americans to integrate the National Park Service. He was assigned to Yosemite National Park in California, and later enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he was stationed in France and Thailand.
Returning to New Orleans in 1967, Robert became a community organizer and civil rights activist, leading an effort to launch an ecumenical march to commemorate the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Robert’s efforts were instrumental in pressuring the city to hire African Americans to meaningful positions.
In 1970, Robert was hired as the first Black Executive Assistant to a New Orleans Mayor (Mayor Moon Landrieu). During his eight years in the Landrieu administration, Robert played a pivotal role in managing and resolving municipal challenges and fighting for economic access for entrepreneurs of color. He had an instrumental role in electing and advising prominent political leaders such as Mayor Dutch Morial, Mayor Marc Morial, Senator Mary Landrieu, Mayor LaToya Cantrell, and many others across the nation.
He was also instrumental in achieving a peaceful resolution to an eight-hour standoff between the New Orleans Police Department and the Black Panther Party.
Robert left government in 1978 and entered the world of business, first as a consultant and later as the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of his own firm. He and Janee Tucker built a small business that specialized in providing support services to Department of Defense agencies into a major employer of over 300 individuals. Robert was also active in civic and public affairs, serving on numerous boards and commissions, including the New Orleans Port Authority, the Regional Transit Authority, the United Negro College Fund, Inc., The Clark Atlanta University Board of Trustees, and the Historic St. James AME Church’s Commission on Church History & Preservation to name a few.
Robert’s dedication to social justice and community empowerment was rooted in his love for his family and his faith. He believed that everyone deserved access to equal opportunity and fought tirelessly to create a better world for all. His life and legacy are a testament to the power of faith, determination, and compassion in making a positive difference in the world. He will be deeply missed by his family, friends, colleagues, and all those whose lives he has touched.
Robert was a devoted husband to Fatma Aydin, and a loving father to his three children, Iam, David, and Jeffrey. He instilled in them the values of hard work, education, integrity, and community service, and inspired them to carry on his legacy of fighting for equality, justice, and dignity for all.
He leaves behind the following family members to mourn his absence: Wife, Fatma Aydin; Sons, Jeffrey Tucker Washington (Sheila) Dallas, TX; David Tucker, Los Angeles, CA; Daughter, Iam Christian Tucker (Candace), New Orleans, LA; Grandsons Jason Washington (Carin) & Jamaal Washington (Kieche’el); 7 great-grandchildren, Dallas, TX; Niece, Dr. Shuana Tucker-Sims (John), Middlebury, CT; Nephews, Keith Stamps, Atlanta, GA; Devrim Hayes, New Orleans; Kaya Aydin; Great nephew Evan Battiste, Washington, DC; Sister-in-law, Ruyveda Collins; Brothers in law, Suleyman Aydin (Sona Ocal); Apo Aydin (Elif); Mother-in-law, Ayse Aydin; Godchildren, Shawn Favre & Heather Hodge as well as numerous cousins, relatives and friends.
Robert was predeceased by his parents, sister Mercedes Tucker Stamps and brother Eric Lionel Tucker.