Benjamin Jealous is the former president and CEO of the NAACP. He recently stepped down from his post at the end of 2013, after 10 years. The youngest president in its history, he began his career at age 18 opening mail at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Jealous has been a leader of successful state and local movements to ban the death penalty, outlaw racial profiling, defend voting rights, secure marriage equality, and free multiple wrongfully incarcerated people. Under his leadership, the NAACP grew to be the largest civil rights organization online and on mobile, experienced its first multi-year membership growth in 20 years, and became the largest community-based nonpartisan voter registration operation in the country. A builder of robust coalitions, Jealous' leadership at the NAACP included bringing environmentalist organizations into the fight to protect voting rights, and convincing well-known conservatives to join the NAACP in challenging mass incarceration.
Prior to leading the NAACP, he spent 15 years serving as a journalist and community organizer. While at Mississippi's Jackson Advocate newspaper, his investigations were credited with exposing corruption at a state penitentiary and proving the innocence of a black farmer who was being framed for arson. While at Amnesty International, he led successful efforts to outlaw prison rape, expose the increasing trend of children being sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, and draw attention to expanded racial profiling in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
A Rhodes Scholar, he has been named to the 40 under 40 lists of both Forbes and Time magazines. He is #1 on TheRoot.coms 2013 list of black leaders under 45.
Mr. Jealous will visit Webster University on Monday, February 17 to share his lecture, We Got What We Fought For, But We Lost What We Had. From Brown v. Board of Education to mass incarceration, Benjamin Jealous recounts a watershed conversation with his almost century-old grandmother about how young Black Americans came to be the most murdered generation in the country and the most incarcerated generation on the planet. He explains the untold risks in the related trends for all Americans, including the hidden connection between skyrocketing public university tuition and swollen prison populations. In closing, he outlines the way forward toward a less incarcerated, better educated, and more prosperous nation.
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