Beyond Jim Crow: NAACP president Benjamin Jealous to speak on March 14

Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, will address the topic Beyond Jim Crow: Civil Rights, Human Rights, and America’s Ongoing Struggle for Fairness and Opportunity” on Monday, March 14.

Jealous will speak at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the new Welcome Center on the Wake Forest campus.
The event, which is co-sponsored by the School of Law and the Office of the Provost, is free and open to the public.

 “Ben Jealous is someone I greatly admire,” said Jonathan Cardi, a WFU law professor who specializes in tort law and race issues. “He has dedicated himself to helping others, often at significant personal sacrifice.  I think that the message he carries to Wake and the example he provides will be inspiring for our students. “

 In addition, Jealous will participate in a private roundtable, “Does Civil Rights & the Urban Agenda Have a Future?,”  along with Derek Douglas, adviser to President Obama for Urban Issues, and Lia Epperson, associate professor of law, American University. The roundtable is for Wake Forest law professors on Sunday, March 13.


Jealous is 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, according to the NAACP website.

During his career, Jealous 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.

As a student at Columbia University, he worked in Harlem as a community organizer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. On campus, Jealous led school-wide movements, including boycotts and pickets for homeless rights, a successful campaign to save full-need financial aid and need-blind admissions when other national universities were cutting such programs, and an environmental justice battle with the University.

Active in civic life, Jealous is a board member of the California Council for the Humanities, and the Association of Black Foundation Executives, as well as a member of the Asia Society. He is married to Lia Epperson Jealous, a professor of constitutional law and former civil rights litigator with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.  As part of the couple’s visit to Wake Forest, she will make a presentation to the law faculty at a luncheon on Monday.