Ofield Dukes was a communications professional, educator, and journalist, best known in PR as president of Ofield Dukes and Associates, a Washington, DC-based PR firm that specialized in political and minority affairs with particular focus on African-American and African issues.
He was a PRSA member for more than 40 years and in 2001 became the first African-American to receive the Gold Anvil Award, PRSA’s highest individual honor.
Dukes led the PRSA’s first National Diversity Task Force in 2002 and 2003, resulting in the Chapter Diversity Awards. He campaigned across the country, taking the diversity message to chapters as a top priority for national leadership.
Born in 1932 in Rutledge, Alabama, Dukes graduated in journalism from Wayne State University in Detroit in 1958. He was an award-winning reporter before relocating to Washington, DC in 1964 to join the Johnson-Humphrey administration as deputy director of information for the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity.
In 1966, the White House appointed him to the staff of Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, where he served until 1968. Dukes started his PR firm in 1969 with an office at the National Press Building - Motown Records was his first client.
Dukes helped organize the first Congressional Black Caucus dinner and served on the boards of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Change.
He was a communications consultant for every Democratic presidential campaign from 1972 until his death. In 1993, he founded the Black Public Relations Society of Washington. He was an adjunct professor at Howard University for 17 years and American University for eight.
Dukes implemented the first public education campaign by the National Cancer Institute to reduce cancer among African-Americans, and assisted the US Census Bureau on an outreach campaign to maximize minority participation in the 1980 census.
He helped create and implement an education awareness program to reduce smoking in minority population groups, and assisted the Navy and Marine Corps on new programs for minority recruitment.
He advised author Alex Haley, managing his PR following the release of Roots and the acclaimed TV series based on the book.
In October 2011, Dukes left Washington, DC after 46 years for his native Detroit, where he died aged 79 in December the same year.