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, wrote NAACP chairman Julian Bond in an email today.
Ben has been an ally of the Equal Justice Society since our founding and all of us here are proud that he will lead the NAACP.
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 generations.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 prison.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 website.I hope you will join me in welcoming Benjamin Todd Jealous to our organization. I know we can expect great things from his leadership.