Charles Paul Hammock, Pa. legislator, activist

Charles P. Hammock
Charles P. Hammock
Posted: March 01, 2014

Charles Paul Hammock, 72, of Philadelphia, a Pennsylvania state legislator who worked for social justice on behalf of African Americans, died Saturday, Feb. 15, of heart failure at his home.

Mr. Hammock's passion for justice was a hallmark of his life and propelled him into public service. He served as a Democratic member of the Pennsylvania from the 196th District from Jan. 2, 1973, to Nov. 30, 1976.

In the 1970s, he was board chair of the National Office for Black Catholics. He led a 1971 delegation to meet with Pope Paul VI at the Vatican to encourage the appointment of a black bishop.

Throughout the years, Mr. Hammock's zeal for the social, political, and economic transformation of African Americans inspired him to give of his time and energy to others.

He mentored many high school students and served as a judge in the John S. Bradway High School Mock Trial Competition, held annually at what is now Temple University's Beasley School of Law.

He promoted a message of equality as a contributing writer and columnist for the weekly Public Record.

His last work as historian, creative consultant, and lead actor was his portrayal of Frederick Douglass for PhillyCAM's community-access TV program Conversations Across Time.

Charismatic and eloquent, Mr. Hammock was suited to portray Douglass, who escaped from slavery to become a leader of the abolitionist movement.

Born in South Philadelphia, Mr. Hammock grew up in Tioga. He graduated from Roman Catholic High School, where he was the 1959 Catholic League champion of the 120-meter high hurdles. He was later inducted into the Roman Catholic High School Alumni Association Sports Hall of Fame.

Offered 14 college scholarships, he chose Villanova University, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in economics. While there, he ran track for the legendary coach Jumbo Elliott.

It was during his time at Villanova, Mr. Hammock told his family, that he learned about the devastating impact of racial inequality, and the importance of being proactive to combat injustice.

He vowed to become an advocate for social change and went on to earn a law degree from Howard University School of Law. He never practiced law, but used his legal skills in his dual roles as legislator and mentor.

His sister, Debra Hammock-Nocho, said the two talked daily. She looked up to him as a role model and confidant.

"I was inspired at all he had accomplished. It made me push harder in my career," she said. "He was always there when I had something I wanted to talk about."

Surviving, besides his sister, are four nieces and a nephew.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 28, at St. Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic Church, 20th and Christian Streets. Burial will be in Greenmount Cemetery.


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