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Public relations legend Ofield Dukes dies

On December 19, 2011

  • Dukes ran his public relations firm, Ofield Dukes and Associates, for more than four decades. He also taught as an adjunct professor at Howard University for 25 years.

Ofield Dukes, a leading public relations counselor to several presidents and elected officials, died last week. He was 79. Dukes died at Henry Ford Hospital in his Detroit hometown after a long illness.

He ran his PR firm, Ofield Dukes & Associates, for more than four decades in Washington before returning to Detroit in September.

Dukes operated one of the most successful public relations firms in DC.

He was the recipient of numerous awards and commendations. A worldwide traveler, Dukes served as consultant to presidential campaigns, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, entertainers, international leaders, and organizations.

Dukes came to Washington in l964 to work in the Johnson-Humphrey Administration as Deputy Director of the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, chaired by former President Lyndon B. Johnson. A year later, he was appointed to the staff of Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey. In l969, Dukes opened his public relations firm in the National Press Building, with record label Motown as his first client.

His career included helping to organize the first Congressional Black Caucus dinner, serving on the CBC Foundation board for 14 years and on the board of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Non-Violence. He also orchestrated the 1981 National March on Washington to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday.

Dukes encouraged hundreds of African-American students to enter the field of public relations, teaching public relations as an adjunct professor at Howard University's John H. Johnson School of Communications for 25 years. He also taught at The American University for eight years.

In 2001, Dukes 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. He also founded the DC chapter of the Black Public Relations Society. Dukes is survived by his daughter, Roxi Victorian, son-in-law, Michael B. Victorian, grandson, Michael Dukes Victorian, and sisters, Lou Brock, Anne Harris, and Betty Hayden.

For more information about Ofield's life and career, visit

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