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Activist, ex-news executive named to lead NAACP

Sun., May 18, 2008, midnight

The NAACP selected Benjamin Todd Jealous as its president Saturday, tapping a young, Oxford University-educated activist to lead the nation’s oldest civil rights group.

Jealous, 35, was chosen by the group’s 64-member board after a yearlong search and was introduced at the group’s national headquarters in Baltimore. He is expected to start his new job Sept. 1.

Jealous is the president of the Rosenberg Foundation in San Francisco, which advocates for immigrants and working-class families. He also is a former news executive, having served as executive director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, which encompasses about 200 black newspapers, and as managing editor of the Jackson Advocate, a black newspaper in Mississippi.

“Ben Jealous has spent his professional life working for and raising money for the very social justice concerns for which the NAACP advocates,” NAACP Chairman Julian Bond said in a statement. “He is a perfect match. … We are looking forward to a great future under his leadership.”

In June 2005, telecommunications executive Bruce Gordon expressed excitement when he was chosen to lead the NAACP but became disillusioned after the board and executive committee challenged his efforts to steer the group toward more humanitarian work rather than its sole civil rights mission. The board and Bond were equally disillusioned with Gordon, who they said did not meet his fundraising targets.

Founded in 1909 by W.E.B. DuBois and Ida Wells-Barnett to fight black lynching, the NAACP is the most recognized name in the civil rights establishment with hundreds of branches. But after missteps, it is seeking to regain the influence of its heyday during the civil rights movement as it heads toward its centennial.


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