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The Christian Recorder Breaking News – NAACP Selects Long Time Activist Lawyer and AME Itinerant Elder Cornell Brooks as New President
NAACP Selects Long Time Activist Lawyer Cornell Brooks as New President
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has selected a social justice activist and minister to lead the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.
Formed in 1909, the NAACP has maintained its mission “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination”. The name alone symbolizes the tradition typically associated with the organization, as it has retained the now taboo term “colored’ in its name since it’s inception.
This tradition has lead the organization’s board of directors to overwhelmingly select Cornell William Brooks out of a select group of 450 applicants, to replace interim NAACP president Lorraine Miller, who stepped in once president Benjamin Todd Jealous resigned last September.
Brooks comes with all the credentials, accolades, and social status connections typically associated with these leadership positions. Brooks is a former senior counsel member with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Brooks is also a longtime attorney who was a trial attorney for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. While attending Yale Law School, where he received his Juris Doctorate, he was senior editor of the Yale Law Journal. He also received a master’s degree in divinity from Boston University.
The Rev. Melvin E. Wilson, Presiding Elder of the Brooklyn-Westchester District of the New York Annual Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) said, "Today is a Wonderful Moment for African Methodism because this morning, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) announced that it has selected Cornell William Brooks as its new President and CEO." Wilson went on to say, "This is particularly gratifying for me because Cornell and I were literal roommates in seminary for the entire 3 years that we attended Boston University School of Theology. Cornell Brooks is an ordained Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and he has one of the most brilliant minds of anyone I've ever met. African Methodism has always had a strong history of civil and civic engagement. We should be godly proud that an AME will now lead the NAACP!"
Brother Eldridge Darwin of the 13th Episcopal District wrote, “I am very excited. I remember years ago I was reading a book on the NAACP and it said during the lean years of its history, the AME Church and its Bishops kept the NAACP afloat."
Brother Matthew Douglas, the Washington Annual Conference Lay President acknowledged the announcement of Cornell Brooks' selections and remembers that "Matthew used to be associate minister at Turner AME in Washington, DC and was pastor briefly of St Luke AME Church."
During the time Brooks served as a U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney, Brooks secured the then largest government settlement for victims of housing discrimination based on discrimination testing. Brooks also filed the government’s first lawsuit against a nursing home alleging housing discrimination based on race.
Brooks, 53, has been living in Annandale, New Jersey with his wife and two sons, with his primary work lately consisting as serving as director of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice- while also serving as pastor and assistant minister at an African Methodist Episcopal Church.
According to USA Today, who was able to get a statement from Brooks via telephone, Brook acknowledges the significance of announcing this during the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling.
“With today being the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education … I’m a graduate of Yale Law School, I am an heir, a beneficiary, a grandson of Brown v. Board of Education, so as a consequence, I am an heir to the legacy of the NAACP,” Brooks said in a telephone interview. It is the “sacrifice of members past and present that led to me being where I am,” he said.
“I am profoundly grateful for this opportunity, “Brooks added.
NAACP chairwoman Roslyn Brock said “Attorney Brooks is a long-term lawyer, a human rights activist and a fourth-generation ordained minister and so we look forward to leveraging his experience … and his keen vision,” Brooks is slated to officially take over in July, at a NAACP board meeting in Las Vegas. Until then Brooks says the plan is to become familiar with the needs and concerns of the organization.