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NAACP president to deliver MLK Address

January 23, 2014
Benjamin Jealous

WHO: Benjamin Todd Jealous, the youngest president in the history of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, will deliver the University of Rochester’s 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Address. Jealous’s address will draw on the tradition of leadership that connects Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., Shirley Chisolm, Frederick Douglas, Cesar Chavez, and Frances Willard to inspire young people to change the world. Jealous will discuss victories he has won, as well as those of young organizers he has trained and mentored, as a framework for how to achieve social transformation.

PRESS OPPORTUNITY: Press availability with Jealous will be scheduled from 3 to 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24, in the Frederick Douglass Leadership House, located on Wilson Boulevard on the Fraternity Quadrangle.

COMMEMORATIVE ADDRESS: 6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24, Strong Auditorium on the River Campus. The address is free and open to the public.

ABOUT BENJAMIN TODD JEALOUS: A fifth generation member of the NAACP, Jealous began his career in civil rights at age 18, opening mail at the organization’s Legal Defense Fund. He has since become an outspoken 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 20 years, and became the largest community-based nonpartisan voter registration operation in the country. He announced last fall that he planned to step down from the leadership position at the end of 2013.

Prior to leading the NAACP, Jealous spent 15 years working as a journalist and community organizer. While at Mississippi’s Jackson Advocate Newspaper—the most frequently firebombed publication in the U.S. 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.

A Rhodes Scholar, Jealous is a graduate of Columbia and Oxford Universities. He was named to both Forbes and Time Magazine’s 40 under 40 lists, labeled a Young Global Economic Leader by the World Economic Forum, and was #1 on’s list of 2013’s Top Black Influencers.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Members of the media should check in with Melissa Greco Lopes by calling 585.260.6666 or e-mailing

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Category: University News