All I can say is that’s it’s about time. I just think it’s interesting that his father is white, so when I told my friend he’s mixed, he responded by saying “Oh this must be a year for the mixed race” by making an allusion to Obama. I think it is interesting that this was the guy who was picked and chosen, and frankly, I think he gives simply a newer and fresher face to the nearly defunct organization.
Below is an excerpt from the Baltimore Sun’s article about Jealous’ election to the presidency of the NAACP.
A 35-year-old human rights activist with family ties to Baltimore will become the NAACP‘s new president and chief executive officer, the board of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization voted early this morning.
Benjamin Todd Jealous, a graduate of Columbia University and a Rhodes Scholar, will become the youngest national leader in the 99-year history of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
“I’m excited to take the helm of the NAACP,” he said early yesterday. “I believe in the urgent need for strong civil rights institutions and strong black institutions in general.”
But the NAACP’s 64-member board was not united in its selection of Jealous. The vote, which came after an arduous eight-hour closed-door meeting that ended close to 3 a.m. at the Westin Baltimore International Airport hotel, came as some members complained they were shut out of the selection process.
Jealous, however, received key support from NAACP board Chairman Julian Bond.
During the meeting, Jealous gave lengthy presentation to board members, after which each member was permitted to ask him a question. That portion of the meeting lasted three hours and from time to time, loud applause could be heard outside the closed meeting room. When Jealous emerged from the conference room, he said the interaction with board members “went really well. Fabulous.”
“When you have 64 people, you will always have many opinions,” he said. “But judging from the applause and the questions, I think most people felt very good about me.”
Jealous has spent the last six years in leadership positions with advocacy roles, including three years as director of Amnesty International’s U.S. Human Rights Program, and most recently as president of the San Francisco-based Rosenberg Foundation, which supports social justice organizations. Before that, he spent three years as executive director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, an organization of 200 black-owned community newspapers.
In an interview with The Sun, Jealous expressed an admiration of the NAACP, an organization he said his family has supported for five generations.
“I’ve spent my entire life in this movement,” he said. “I was raised to believe that there is no greater calling than to serve your people in the cause of justice. That is how I have spent my life. I have no higher ambitions.”
Although he grew up in Pacific Grove, Calif., Jealous spent summers at his grandparents’ home in Baltimore’s Ashburton neighborhood, where his family was active in the Baltimore NAACP. Jealous’ mother, who is black, was among the first students to desegregate Western High School in 1955, he said. His father, who is white, took part in sit-ins to desegregate Baltimore lunch counters, Jealous said.
Jealous has a VERY hard task to make the NAACP relevant again. They recently closed major regional offices, they can’t even afford to pay the student interns at the main Atlanta office (I know from personal experience). For me as a 23-year-old, I’m hoping that there is some sort of stimulus that comes from him being the epitome of what it means to be “colored” as in the official title of the organization. By having “colored” in their name, for me simply means that they are in a better position to aid (mostly legal however) to all people of the nation who are of color.
My friend also mentioned that it seems that the organization is going back to their roots by having a distinct intellect (you really don’t get much more prestige than Rhodes Scholar), such as that of W.E.B. DuBois (who was a Fisk University alumnus I might add).
So, I’m looking for great things from him.
I just wonder how does Freddy Haynes feel about the whole thing.
So, to my readers, in an attempt to garner more comments and feedback (thanks AB), what do you think the role of the NAACP is, or even should be?
Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL
One thought on “A New ‘Colored’ Leader–finally.”
I think NACCP’s role should be to serve as a beacon of justice for the voiceless (of color), if that makes sense.
I had no idea that the organization had fallen on such hard times.
I too, was surprised when I first saw Jealous’ (great last name) photo. I wasn’t sure if he was fair-skinned negro or …white. My former guess was the correct, I see.
No matter his apperance, hopefully he breathes new life into such a luminous organization.