The NAACP on Saturday announced that lawyer and activist Cornell William Brooks would become its new national president and CEO.
The selection of Brooks came as the nation celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision by the Supreme Court which outlawed segregation in public school, a lawsuit that was argued by the organization’s legal arm.
Brooks, 53, of Annandale, New Jersey, will become the organization’s 18th national president, replacing interim leader Lorraine Miller. Miller has been serving in that position since Benjamin Jealous ended his five-year tenure last year.
“With a flood of attacks on our right to vote, growing gaps in education and health equality and a broken criminal justice system,” Roslyn Brock, chairman of the NAACP Board, told The RootSaturday during a phone interview about the announcement. “We believe that attorney Brooks is the right person at the right time to help us harness the power of our 2200 NAACP units across the country as we continue to advance our mission.”
In an interview with The Root, Brooks called himself a “servant leader.” He plans to spend the next few months on a listening tour of the organization. He is slated to begin in July, when he will be officially introduced to the NAACP organization at its convention.
“As someone who is a serious student of the freedom struggles of this country and abroad I bring to the task a scholarly commitment without necessarily having any particular scholarly pretensions,” he said. “I think the best thing that can be said is that if I’m effective at communicating and inspiring, it’s because I work really really hard at listening and learning as much as I can about the people that I’m charged with serving.”
For the last six years, Brooks has served as executive director of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, where he has worked on legislation for prison reentry and foreclosure. Some of that work involved a partnership with the NAACP. The South Carolina native has been a member of the NAACP since college. As a civil rights litigator he has worked with NAACP branches on fair housing litigation. He is also a former attorney for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Besides the ongoing fight for voting rights, Brooks commented on a number of other current issues for the NAACP, including the Saturday’s 60th anniversary celebration of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Brooks said he was looking forward to the work.
Source: The Root and Associated Press