A Black Nation’s Hope and Promise on His Shoulders by Laura Major
As one talented African American man makes history in winning the Democratic nomination, so does another in the realm of African American activism.
On Saturday, June 7th, 2008, 35-year-old Benjamin Todd Jealous became the youngest person elected president of the 99-year old activist organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also referred to as the NAACP
Jealous is one of the few elected to this high-ranking position without the having a professional background in politics or the ministry.
Having started his activism at the age of 14 with his participation in a voter registration drive, Jealous, a California native, earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a master’s in social policy from Oxford University. Professionally, Jealous continued to support black activism through his role as a community organizer for the NAACP, and an executive director for the National Newspaper Publishers Association, which boasts to be the country’s largest community of black newspapers. Most recently, Jealous was president of the Rosenberg Foundation, an institution in the private sector supporting human rights and civil rights advocacy.
As the NAACP nears its centennial, it chose a new direction to regain its fading financial support. It is their hope that Jealous is the answer to many young black critics who accuse the organization of not recognizing the current challenges of young black supporters. With this new appointment, many hope the new leadership will address issues facing younger African Americans that emerged since desegregation.
Just like Obama’s presidential nomination suggests a promise of new hope and fresh ideas, so does the appointment of Benjamin Todd Jealous as President of the NAACP. Both men have a lot to live up to but they each possess the passion and the intelligence to make it happen.
Benjamin Todd Jealous
grew up believing that there was no higher calling than to further the cause of freedom in this country and in the world. It is a mindset he inherited from of his parents and grandparents. Their drive for community betterment blazed the trail for Jealous’ own deep commitment to social justice, public service and human rights activism. Now, as the 17th President and Chief Executive Officer of the NAACP, and the youngest person to hold the position in the organization’s nearly 100-year history, Jealous is well positioned to answer the call.
During his career, he has served as president of the Rosenberg Foundation, director of the U.S. Human Rights Program at Amnesty International and Executive Director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a federation of more than 200 black community newspapers. From his early days of organizing voter registration drives up until his nomination and election as NAACP president, Jealous has been motivated by civic duty and a constant need to improve the lives of America’s underrepresented.
All things considered, Jealous’ leadership roles and active community involvement have well prepared him for his current duties as president of the NAACP. In fact, his path through journalism and the Black Press is not unlike several other former NAACP presidents, including Roy Wilkins, Walter White, Ida B. Wells and W.E.B. Dubois. Read the entire article about Benjamin Todd Jealous here.