A New Century, a New NAACP? - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue


Benjamin Todd Jealous

Gov. David A. Paterson opened the first plenary ceremony of the NAACP’s Centennial Conference Monday with a reminder that liberation for African Americans is the liberation of America. That message was indeed the reigning theme of the morning.


Paterson joined several speakers who underscored the relevancy of the NAACP by focusing not only on the organizations accomplishments from the past, but on the challenges that lay ahead for African Americans and people of all colors.

“It is the [same] NAACP that we needed 100 years ago that we need now more than ever,” said Rep. Charles Rangel.

Speakers told attendees at the New York Hilton that the original purpose of the NAACP was the dismantling of color lines. Underscoring that fact was a continuous reminder that members should throw their support behind Judge Sonia Sotomayor, whose congressional confirmation hearings in Washington, D.C. started this morning.

Former NAACP presidents and executive directors Kweisi Mfume (1996-2004), Bruce Gordon (2005-2007), and Benjamin Lawson Hooks (1977-1993) warned the audience that the election of President Barack Obama is not the organizations final victory. “This historic election should empower us to do more,” said Mfume.

And more is what newly appointed NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous wants to do. Jealous plans to implement the original goals of the NAACP by advancing the cause of human rights. He reminded the audience of 2,300 people that while the NAACP is a very black organization in terms of its participants, but it is not an organization solely for black people.

“There are white people trapped in multigenerational poverty,” said Jealous. “In addition to there being gender conscious and race conscious affirmative action, there should be class conscious affirmative action.”

Lobbying for fair lending practices, smarter strategies on criminal justice policy, and fair unionization policies for businesses are among the goals that Jealous has set forth during his presidency.

“[The NAACP] will always be there to enforce basic civil rights, but the big battles, for good schools and healthcare for all [are] human rights battles,” says Jealous. “In order to win human rights victories, we don’t need so much litigation as we need community [organization].

However, in his speech, Jealous, 36, emphasized a necessity to include more young people his age and younger in these social justice fights, saying the position of young people in a movement is a sign of whether an organization is “merely ordinary or truly extraordinary.”

Organizing youth for the causes of the NAACP in the manner that Obama did during his historic campaign for presidency will require a campaign of its own for the NAACP. Perhaps in the years to come the NAACP’s youngest president can take a primed youth movement and bring justice for all Americans.

Marcia A. Wade is the reporter for BlackEnterprise.com.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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