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Benjamin-Chavis

Dr. Benjamin Chavis

Civil Rights Leader

Dr. Benjamin Franklin Chavis, Jr. is an African American civil rights leader born on Jan. 22, 1948 in Oxford, N.C. As a 12-year-old, Chavis effectively desegregated his hometown’s whites-only public library, becoming the first African American to be issued a library card in the town’s history. Later in his youth, Chavis became the youth coordinator…

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Dr. Benjamin Franklin Chavis, Jr. is an African American civil rights leader born on Jan. 22, 1948 in Oxford, N.C. As a 12-year-old, Chavis effectively desegregated his hometown’s whites-only public library, becoming the first African American to be issued a library card in the town’s history.

Later in his youth, Chavis became the youth coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

At the age of 24, he rose to international prominence as the leader of the “Wilmington Ten.” After the conviction of the entire group that would be overturned on appeal, Chavis received a sentence of 34 years in prison.

Along with the other members of the Wilmington Ten, he walked to his freedom in 1980 after the Federal Appeals Court overturned the convictions and cited prosecutorial misconduct. Upon his release from prison, Chavis returned to the field of civil rights, and became a vice president of the National Council of Churches. The NAACP National Board of Directors elected him as the executive director of America’s oldest civil rights organization.

He later served as the national director of the Million Man March, and the founder and CEO of the National African American Leadership Summit (NAALS). Since 2001, Chavis has been CEO and co-chair of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, in New York City, which he co-founded with hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. In 2014, Chavis became the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, an organization which focuses on supporting and advocating for publishers of the nation’s more than 200 black newspapers.

Chavis received a B.A. in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; M.Div., magna cum laude, from Duke University; and D. Min., from Howard University.

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Lifelong activist Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. will share his evolving perspectives on the value and urgent need for “freedom-fighting” social workers who can help lead toward a more positive and inclusive social transformation of our nation and world into a better place to live for all people.

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Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. on BBC HardTalk in London

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