Benjamin Todd Jealous

Recent Articles

Let us recommit to the HBCU mission of St. Paul’s College

By Benjamin Todd Jealous

Guest Commentator

 

This fall, as college campuses open their doors to the bustle of students, one historically Black institution will remain silent. In the old colonial town of Lawrenceville, Va., Saint Paul’s College has shut its doors after more than a century of operation. The college had fallen on hard times in recent years, and it serves as a canary in the coal mine for other historically Black colleges and universities that face an uncertain economic future. Saint Paul’s College was founded in 1888 by my grandfather’s uncle, James Solomon Russell. A former slave who died an archdeacon and university principal-emeritus, Russell understood the transformative power of education. Continue Reading →

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The I Am Troy call to action

 

By Benjamin Todd Jealous

Guest Commentator

 

Two years ago last week, the state of Georgia ignored the facts, doubts and pleas of hundreds of thousands of people and killed Troy Anthony Davis. Today, on the anniversary of his execution, we rededicate ourselves to ending the immoral, biased and ineffective practice of capital punishment. For 15 years, we fought alongside Troy to clear his name for the killing of Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail. Troy remained adamant about his innocence to his last breath. As explained in the new book I Am Troy Davis by author Jen Marlowe and Troy’s sister, Martina Davis-Correia, the case against Troy lacked conclusive evidence after many key witnesses recanted testimony from the time of the original trial. Continue Reading →

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History can move in two directions at once

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Benjamin Todd Jealous

Contributing Writer

 

In my time as an organizer, I have been guided by the words of many people, activists and authors, colleagues and friends. But the most powerful lesson I ever received about the struggle for civil and human rights came in 1993, when my grandmother taught me that history could move in two directions at once. I was in college, celebrating a friend’s 21st birthday. A round of toasts went up. One friend raised his glass to honor the memory of all those we knew who had been killed or sent to prison before they reached the age of 21. Continue Reading →

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Emancipation Proclamation and our collective history

 

By Benjamin Todd Jealous

Guest Commentator

 

The Emancipation Proclamation, which set our nation on the path to the end of slavery, was signed 150 years ago this month. This year, we should resolve to teach our children the story of our collective history. The past century and a half offers countless tales of bravery and sacrifice to inspire the next generation. Only by sharing our history will we be able to continue our progress over the next 150 years. President Lincoln’s wartime proclamation in 1863 read that “all persons held as slaves” in rebel states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” This was a noble idea and certainly a brave gesture. Continue Reading →

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Opportunity and diversity one industry at a time

By Benjamin Todd Jealous

Guest Commentator

 

There is a missing component to the national discussion concerning how to strengthen and rebuild the American economy. It is true that high unemployment, a weak national infrastructure, the need for stronger public education, the concentration of wealth and the deficit are all challenges to the nation’s economy, but being left out of the discussion is the continued economic marginalization of racial and ethnic minorities. The American economy has always been strongest when it’s kept the middle class within reach for most Americans. But with White households holding nearly 20 times the wealth of Black or Latino households, and with rising disparities in unemployment, poverty, and income, the future of the middle class has never looked more uncertain. As the country rapidly becomes majority minority, the nation’s economic well-being is increasingly tied to overcoming racial-economic inequality. Continue Reading →

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Democracy is under attack by voter suppression

 

By Benjamin Todd Jealous

Guest Commentator 

 

Far too often in modern elections, sound bites trump substance and voters are left wondering what the candidates really stand for. This is even more acute for issues important to the African American and civil rights communities. That is why, as we have done every presidential cycle for decades, the NAACP is traveling to the Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention — to ensure that these issues are addressed by both major political parties. This year the Republican Party met in Tampa, Florida August 27-30, and the Democratic Party meets in Charlotte, North Carolina September 4-6.  These days, voting on who will lead each party’s ticket is largely a formality. But the delegates do have another important objective: choosing their party’s policy platform for the next four years. Continue Reading →

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In Troy Davis’ name, NAACP renews call to abolish the death penalty

 

 

By Derek Turner
Guest Commentator

Motivated by the tragic execution of Troy Davis in Georgia last September, the NAACP has renewed its fight to make the death penalty a part of America’s past. Over the next year, NAACP state representatives in several key states will urge their legislators to take the necessary steps to repeal the ultimate punishment. “People in this country care about justice and fairness,” stated Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the National NAACP. “Unfortunately, Troy Davis’ case and too many other cases in our country demonstrate that these elements are sorely lacking in the application of capital punishment in this nation. African Americans and the poor are disproportionately handed this extreme punishment for the same offenses as their wealthier or White counterparts.”
While African Americans make up less than 13 percent of the total U.S. population, they compose 42 percent of those awaiting execution on death row and 35 percent of defendants executed in the U.S. since 1976. Continue Reading →

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Our voting rights are under attack

 

 

By Benjamin Todd Jealous

Guest Commentator

 

In legislatures across the county, misguided state politicians have proposed, and in too many cases have passed, laws that create obstacles to voting. That is why on December 10, International Human Rights Day, we took a principled stand for freedom in New York City to let the world know that we will not sit back and let our right to vote be taken away. Over the last 12 months, 34 states have introduced voter suppression legislation, with laws passing in 14 of those states and bills pending in eight. These suppressive laws take many forms, but in each case they disproportionately impact people of color, working women, blue-collar workers, students, seniors and immigrants. In some states like Wisconsin and Ohio, lawmakers are limiting access to the polls by cutting or even eliminating early and Sunday voting opportunities. Continue Reading →

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