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Cornell William Brooks

Activist for Civil Rights & Social Justice. Former President of the NAACP

Cornell W. Brooks, president and chief executive officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In May 2014 Brooks became the 18th president of the NAACP, the nation’s oldest, largest and most widely respected grassroots-based civil rights organization. A longtime lawyer and human rights activist, Brooks previously served as president and…

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Cornell W. Brooks, president and chief executive officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In May 2014 Brooks became the 18th president of the NAACP, the nation’s oldest, largest and most widely respected grassroots-based civil rights organization.

A longtime lawyer and human rights activist, Brooks previously served as president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, based in Newark. During his time with the Institute, he led successful efforts to win the passage of three landmark prisoner reentry bills in 2010, which were hailed by The New York Times as “a model for the rest of the nation.”

Brooks is also a fourth-generation ordained minister, who has successfully pushed for state legislation to reduce the effects of widespread foreclosures and has worked to develop social impact investing tools to employ more people in higher wage work.

Brooks served as senior counsel for the Federal Communications Commission, executive director of the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington and as a trial attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

He has also campaigned tirelessly as an advocate for public education, affordable healthcare and fiscal responsibility. He earned a Bachelor of Arts, with honors, in political science from Jackson State University and a Master of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology.

Brooks went on to earn a Juris Doctorate from Yale Law School.

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Healthcare Disparity & Economic Opportunity
With the U.S. on track to become a minority majority by 2043, racial economic inequality, including healthcare disparities, increasingly impedes the country’s economic advancement. Cornell Brooks examines healthcare disparities from his leadership role at the NAACP, citing data gathered in the NAACP’s Opportunity and Diversity Report Card on the Healthcare Industry and his longtime service on the board of a New Jersey hospital. He also brings the moving narrative of viewing the nation’s health disparities through the eyes of his father, a physician in the low country of South Carolina. Brooks saw his father’s patients suffering the many maladies of the poor, including hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. According to Cornell Brooks, “We have made great strides, but greater strides have yet to be made and we can yet make them.”

Unless Black Lives Matter, All Lives Can’t Matter
Ferguson. Staten Island. North Charleston. Cleveland. Cornell Brooks has traveled the nation, led a 40-day march from Selma to Washington, D.C. and continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with those advocating for justice and change. As the 18th president of the NAACP, Brooks has united groups as diverse as the AFL-CIO, Sierra Club and National LGBTQ Task Force. He has also actively embraced Black Lives Matter within the evolving continuum of civil rights activism. In this informative and motivational presentation, Brooks calls on everyone to promote the cause of justice and join a multi-racial, multi-faith, multi-generational movement that welcomes people from all sexual orientations and walks of life. “It can’t just be the righteous few,” he says. “There’s got to be an ever-growing many that’s not just saying what’s wrong, but what can be made right.”

The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King
“The words and work, the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King are far too important to be relegated to the gilded pages of history books.” Cornell Brooks sees Dr. King’s “words and work, life and legacy are a part of our nation’s Twitter feed” and believes that “we must be reminded of Dr. King’s service, sacrifice and eloquence of example, not just on Martin Luther King Day, but every day.” As both a Martin Luther King Scholar and student of Dr. King’s works, Cornell Brooks challenges all Americans to “emulate his personal example, draw from his philosophy, and in so doing, make this country the very best that it can be.”

The Global Village: Standing up for Tolerance & Inclusion
All around the world, people are facing threats to their human rights. From orphans in war zones to immigrants seeking to escape both physical threats and economic deprivation, Cornell Brooks reminds us that, a generation ago, Martin Luther King spoke about the world as a global village. He calls upon all of us to “stand up for the human rights of all members of this village, irrespective of their color, their creed, their hue or their heritage.” In a time of Islamophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment and calls to build walls, Brooks confronts intolerance and exclusion and reminds us that Dr. King’s vision of a global village must continue to guide our future.

Videos

NAACP President/CEO Cornell William Brooks addresses Michael Brown

NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks - NCRC 2016 Conference - 3.16.16

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