Former NAACP President Ben Jealous made history this week.
Jealous was selected to be president of the People For The American Way (PFAW) and The People For the American Way Foundation. He’ll be the first non-white person to take the position. He’ll take office June 15.
Jealous said that he’s “thrilled” and “honored” to build on the PFAW’s tradition of multiracial organizing and the fight for justice and equality.
“We are facing critical elections this fall,” stated president-elect Jealous. “The pandemic has highlighted the necessity of finishing the work of MLK, Barbara Jordan and FDR. And the rising generation in America has made clear that we must finally and fully reform the relationship between police and our communities.”
PFAW defines itself as a progressive advocacy organization designed to fight right-wing extremism and work towards justice, opportunity and equality. With the recent surge of right-wing extremism under Pres. Donald Trump PFAW’s mission is has become even more important in the eyes of progressives.
Chosen in 2008 of as the youngest president and CEO in NAACP history, Jealous helped grow that organization’s online activist base and increased its budget as well. He rose to prominence after the murder of Trayvon Martin as he became a go-to pundit on news networks to speak on the lack of justice for the extrajudicial killing of unarmed Black men and women.
The organization’s movements against Voter ID laws, stop-and-frisk enforcements and in favor of marriage equality led to the ending of stop-and-frisk in New York City and the passing of marriage equality throughout the nation. Jealous also worked on passing the DREAM act and abolishing the death penalty.
Recently, Jealous ran for governor of Maryland.
Michael Keegan, president of PFAW, said he’s happy to welcome Jealous to the fold.
“Ben is a proven leader, and an inspiring and visionary individual who will continue building PFAW’s advocacy for progressive values and policies,” stated Keegan. “I look forward to cheering Ben on and helping in any way I can at this critically important juncture in our country’s and our organization’s history. PFAW is committed to shaping a more just future for all our communities and Ben is the right person to lead us in that mission.”
Jealous also brings with him academic credentials that would impress many. He’s graduated from both Columbia and Oxford universities (where he was a Rhodes Scholar) and taught at Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania.
Timothy McDonald, chair of the board at PFAW said that Keegan passing the baton to Jealous should go smoothly.
“Michael Keegan has led a transformed and transforming People For the American Way Foundation, one that is raising up and supporting progressive leaders who reflect the best of all of us,” McDonald stated. “Ben Jealous embodies leadership that is committed to a more just and equitable America. We have been colleagues in the struggle and I am grateful to now have him as a colleague at People For.”