NAACP Chooses Benjamin Todd Jealous as National President-ElectMay 16, 2008
Human rights activist & former black newspaper editor will become 17th leader of civil rights group
The NAACP National Board of Directors is pleased to announce the selection of Benjamin Todd Jealous as National President-elect. He is the 17th person chosen to lead the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization in its 99-year history.
Jealous, 35, comes to the NAACP from the San Francisco-based Rosenberg Foundation*, where he’s served as president since 2005.
“Ben Jealous has spent his professional life working for and raising money for the very social justice concerns for which the NAACP advocates,” said NAACP National Board of Directors Chairman Julian Bond. “He is a perfect match. He is intergenerational and his presence is a demonstration that the nearly 100-year old NAACP attracts the best and brightest. We are looking forward to a great future under his leadership.”
Jealous’ career path includes leadership positions with Amnesty International, where he directed its U.S. Domestic Human Rights Program from 2002 to 2005.
Prior to that, he served as executive director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association--a federation of more than 200 black community newspapers in 38 states. He is former managing editor of the Jackson Advocate, the oldest black-owned weekly newspaper in Mississippi that has been a long-time fierce champion of civil rights and the disenfranchised. Jealous was mentored by the Advocate’s publisher, the late Charles Tisdale, who was attacked as a teenager for helping found a local NAACP unit. The Jackson Advocate was torched repeatedly for its principled stances on civil rights.
As a community organizer on civil rights lawsuits in the ‘90s, Jealous worked in Mississippi to gain equitable funding for the state’s historically black colleges and universities. For the NAACP Legal Defense Fund he organized churches and residents to fight against the elimination of obstetric services at St. Luke’s Women’s Hospital in Harlem, New York.
Jealous also served as program director for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. At 14, he organized his first voter registration drive.
“As an advocate who has spent his entire adult life working for civil and human rights organizations, and as a black parent raising a young child in this country, I am intimately invested in the future successes of the NAACP,” Jealous said. “As a fifth-generation member of the NAACP, I know this mighty Association’s
fundamentals are strong. I see great opportunities to increase the NAACP’s role as a positive force in the collective life of black people and our nation. I am humbled and enthused at the prospects being afforded me by this experience.”
The California native attended public and parochial schools in Monterey County. He holds a bachelor's degree from Columbia University and a master's degree in social policy from Oxford University where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He is married to constitutional law professor and former NAACP Legal Defense Fund litigator Lia Epperson and is the dedicated father of Morgan, 2.
Jealous will officially begin his tenure as president Sept. 1.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.
* The Rosenberg Foundation awards grants designed to improve public policy regarding the economic security of working families and the economic and civic integration of immigrants and members of historically disadvantaged communities in California.
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