Civil and Political Rights

Who are some prominent leaders of the NAACP?

From its beginning in 1909, the NAACP has been under the leadership of a number of influential people, among them Walter White, 1931 to 1955; Roy Wilkins, 1955 to 1976; and Benjamin L. Hooks, 1976 to 1993. The current president and chief executive officer, Benjamin Jealous (1973–), took office in 2008. He faced the challenges of increasing the organization’s visibility, expanding the membership, and strengthening the organization’s financial base. Immediately Jealous reached out to other civil rights advocates, religious leaders, and consultants to help him develop a plan to strengthen the organization. Jealous concentrated also on legislative issues that would affect racial disparities in education, health care, criminal justice, the home-mortgage crisis, and other issues. The California native has long been active in political and community organizations, first in a voter-registration drive for Jesse Jackson’s presidential bid, later in Harlem for the Legal Defense Educational Fund, and still later as field organizer and campaigner in Mississippi to prevent the closing of two public historically black colleges.


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