Last week, the NAACP’s national board of directors selected attorney Cornell William Brooks to be the association’s president and CEO. Since Benjamin Todd Jealous stepped down, an interim president was installed. Brooks, a veteran lawyer, minister and longtime president and CEO of the Newark-based New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, will now be in charge of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.

Rosyln M. Brock, chairman of the association’s board of directors, said she was proud to welcome Brooks aboard. “He is a pioneering lawyer and civil rights leader who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the association. We look forward to leveraging his legal prowess, vision and leadership as we tackle the pressing civil rights issues of the 21st century.”

And those issues are no less challenging today than they were during the height of the civil rights struggle, with reports finding that the school systems across the nation are more segregated than 60 years ago when the Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education ended segregation.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to be entrusted with the opportunity to lead this historic organization,” Brooks said. “In our fight to ensure voting rights, economic equality, health equity and an end to racial discrimination for all people, there is much work to do. I look forward to working with the dynamic board and staff and continuing the important work of the association in advancing racial and social justice and equality for all.”

Brooks is 53 and lives with his wife and children in Woodbridge, Va.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, extended his praise and congratulations for the NAACP’s new president. “Cornell Brooks will bring his experience as a civil rights lawyer and public service to the NAACP as they continue to eliminate discrimination and injustice on all fronts. His background in criminal justice work in New Jersey gives him unique qualifications to join the national civil rights leadership.”