Friday, September 12, 2008
Who is Ben Jealous?
The NAACP has chosen its 17th president--Benjamin Jealous. He hadn't come up on my radar before (not like Bruce Gordon, Kweisi Mfume, Myrlie Evers-Williams, or Ben Chavis), and perhaps he is unknown to you. So, here is what the NAACP is circulating:
Next week a new chapter will begin at the NAACP when Benjamin Todd
Jealous, 35, becomes only the 17th President of the NAACP in its 99-year
history. Mr. Jealous has spent his professional life working for the
very social justice concerns for which the NAACP advocates. We believe
that he is a perfect match, and I think you will agree.
A life-long community activist, Mr. Jealous organized his first voter
registration drive at age 14, with a determination that stemmed from
being raised in a family that has actively supported the NAACP for five
He began his career as a community organizer with the NAACP Legal
Defense Fund working on issues of healthcare access in Harlem. At age
21, Jealous moved to Mississippi to work as a field organizer as part of
a successful campaign to stop the state's plan to close two of its three
public historically black universities, and convert one of them into a
During that time, he took a job at Mississippi's Jackson Advocate
newspaper investigating human rights abuses. His reporting for the
frequently firebombed weekly paper was credited with exposing corruption
amongst high-ranking officials at notorious Parchman State Prison. His
investigations also helped to acquit a black small farmer who had been
wrongfully and maliciously accused of arson.
He soon became Managing Editor at the Advocate, and eventually went on
to serve as Executive Director of the National Newspaper Publishers
Association (NNPA), a federation of more than 200 black community
newspapers. While at the NNPA, he rebuilt its 90-year old national news
service and launched a web-based initiative that more than doubled the
number of black newspapers publishing online.
His career path has also included leadership positions at Amnesty
International, where he directed the U.S. Domestic Human Rights Program
and published their widely acclaimed 2004 report, Threat and
Humiliation: Racial Profiling, Domestic Security, and Human Rights in
the United States, leading efforts to rebuild public support against
racial profiling post 9/11.
Most recently, Mr. Jealous served as President of the Rosenberg
Foundation, an independent institution that supports civil and human
rights advocacy related to the economic interests of working people.
A Rhodes Scholar as well as an accomplished activist, Mr. Jealous is one
of the best and brightest of his generation; and he represents a new
generation for the NAACP. To learn more about him, visit the NAACP
I hope you will join me in welcoming Benjamin Todd Jealous to our
organization. I know we can expect great things from his leadership.
Chairman of the Board, NAACP