Bookmark and Share

Former NAACP Chief Benjamin Jealous to Offer Lecture at KU

January 31, 2014

KUTZTOWN, Pa. - Benjamin Jealous, the former president and chief executive officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), will present the lecture "We Got What We Fought for, But Lost What We Had" Friday, Feb. 28, at 7:30 p.m. in Schaeffer Auditorium.  The event is free and open to the public; however, tickets are required.  Tickets can be obtained by calling the KU Box Office at 610-683-4092 or visiting

From Brown v. Board of Education to mass incarceration, Jealous will recount 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.

The youngest president in NAACP history, Jealous began his career at age 18 opening mail at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.  He 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 twenty years and became the largest community-based nonpartisan voter registration operation in the countryA builder of robust coalitions, Jealous's 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 championing the end of mass incarceration.

Prior to leading the NAACP, Jealous spent 15 years serving as a journalist and community organizer. While at Mississippi's Jackson Advocate Newspaper-the most frequently firebombed publication in the US during the late 20th century-his investigations were credited with exposing corruption at the state penitentiary at Parchman 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.  When he was still a college student, Jealous helped lead a successful campaign to stop the governor of Mississippi from turning a public historically black university into a prison.

A Rhodes Scholar, he is a graduate of Columbia and Oxford Universities.  He has been named to the 40 under 40 lists of both Forbes and Time magazines, and labeled a Young Global Economic Leader by the World Economic Forum.  He is number one on's 2013 list of black leaders under 45.  Jealous lives in Maryland with his wife and two children.

A free-will offering will be accepted at the Feb. 28 event.  Proceeds will fund a scholarship to benefit a KU upper class student from an underrepresented group who demonstrates academic excellence and community service. 

Media interviews may be granted and will need to be scheduled in advance.  Contact David Johnson at for more information.