Eastern Michigan University

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Keynote Speaker: Benjamin Jealous

Benjamin Jealous, former President of the NAACP, has been a leader of successful state and local movements to ban the death penalty, outlaw racial profiling, defend voting rights, secure marriage equality, and end mass incarceration.
MLk Keynote
 

Benjamin Todd Jealous, a nationally known venture capitalist, civic leader and former President and CEO of the National NAACP, has been selected as the keynote speaker for Eastern Michigan University’s annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration, scheduled on January 16, 2017. Jealous will give the day’s keynote address, in the Student Center Auditorium at 900 Oakwood St. Ypsilanti, Mich.

Jealous is a partner in the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kapor Capital, where he invests in high-growth companies that have a positive social impact. He has been a leader of successful state and local movements to ban the death penalty, outlaw racial profiling, defend voting rights, secure marriage equality, and end mass incarceration.

Jealous, 43, who served as President of the NAACP for four years, from 2008 to 2012, is the youngest leader in the history of the NAACP. He began his career at age 18, opening mail at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Under his leadership, the NAACP grew to be the largest civil rights organization and the largest community-based nonpartisan voter registration operation in the country.

His tenure also included bringing environmentalist organizations into the fight to protect voting rights, and convincing well-known conservatives to join the NAACP.

Prior to leading the NAACP, Jealous spent 15 years as a journalist and community organizer. While at Mississippi's Jackson Advocate newspaper, his investigations were credited with exposing corruption at a state penitentiary and proving the innocence of a black farmer framed for arson.

While at Amnesty International, he led successful efforts to outlaw prison rape, expose the increasing trend of children being sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, and draw attention to expanded racial profiling in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Jealous was born in Pacific Grove, California and grew up on the Monterey Peninsula. As a child, he spent his summers in the Ashburton neighborhood of Baltimore with his grandparents. His mother, Ann Todd Jealous, who is black, is a retired psychotherapist from Baltimore who participated in Western High School's desegregation. She is also the author, with Caroline Haskell, of “Combined Destinies: Whites Sharing Grief about Racism,” released in April 2013.

His father, Fred Jealous, who is white and from New England, founded the Breakthrough Men's Community and participated in Baltimore sit-ins to desegregate lunch counters.As an interracial couple, it was illegal for them to get married in Maryland until 1967 due to anti-miscegenation laws; therefore, they had to marry in Washington DC before returning to Baltimore.

Jealous holds a B.A. in political science from Columbia University and a master's degree in comparative social research from the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Jealous' new book, “Reach: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading, and Succeeding,” features personal essays from prominent figures in the black community.

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