2010 Inaugural Fall Lecture: Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO, NAACP
September 29, 2010, 6:30 pm, McGuire Hall, talk followed by a Q&A
The NAACP was founded in 1909 and is “the nation's oldest, largest and most widely recognized grassroots–based civil rights organization.” Now entering its second century of existence, the NAACP is reflecting on its role in the twenty-first century, a question also facing academic fields in African and African American studies. Mr. Jealous is a graduate of Columbia University, a Rhodes Scholar, and prior to assuming the helm at the NAACP he served as president of the Rosenberg Foundation, director of the U.S. Human Rights Program at Amnesty International, and Executive Director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA).
The inaugural fall lecture in African and African American Studies was a success by all measures. The speaker was distinguished and inspiring; the numbers well beyond expected; the crowd diverse in many ways, including within Loyola as well as community members, church members, area academics, and local dignitaries; and the Q&A illustrated a cross-section of the state of the national conversation around race, equality, and the legacy of the civil rights movement. As I said that night, I can think of no one better than the president of the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization to help our new little program make a big entrance.
I have been moved to participate in, overhear, or hear about intelligent discussion sparked by the occasion, be it in classrooms, in hallways, or over a meal. High-quality conversations happen when we come in a spirit of thoughtful inquiry and responsible dialogue.
I hope that we as an intellectual community can help keep the conversation going and at a level worthy of the speaker, the program, and our institution. Let’s engage some of Mr. Jealous’s most challenging and inspiring ideas. For instance, I was struck by his advice to "pick one thing" to work on, even if it's hard or takes a long time; his emphasis that the current generation is the one that made it possible for his young daughter to know—not just believe—that she could be president; his admonition to have "the courage to listen" lest we mistake a handshake for a weapon; and his call for "uncomfortable coalitions." On that last idea he explained: "if you're not uncomfortable, that's not a coalition -- that's your Facebook page." Now, let the conversation continue.
Benjamin Todd Jealous and Fr. Linnane (photo by Martin Corcoran '13)
Rodney King, ALANA Service; Heather Lyons, Psychology and AAAS Faculty Steering Committee; Adanna Johnson, Psychology: Brian Norman, English and AAAS Director; Steven King, Selling School of Business Steven King (photo courtesy of Steven King)
Benjamin Todd Jealous during Q&A (photo by Martin Corcoran '13)