Fifth-generation NAACP leader steps down

BALTIMORE - Ben Jealous is a fifth generation member of the NAACP.  When he was elected President at the young age of 35, it was his generation that would bring new life into the organization.

"May 17, 2008 when I was named it was the 54th anniversary of Brown.  It was my mom's 50th reunion at Western High School," Ben Jealous said.  "We saw membership go up four years in a row.  In the 20 years before I started we hadn't seen membership go up 2 years in a row."

The Columbia graduate and his team used social media to bring the generations together.

"People writing checks tend to be older.  People online tend to be younger.  We went from having 16,000 people write checks for donations every year to more than 156,000," Jealous said.

Volunteers remained on the front lines continuing the NAACP's work.

Speaking out on issues like the Trayvon Martin case.  They worked tirelessly registering voters and fighting for equality.  They did all this while growing online activists.

When Jealous took over in 2008, the NAACP had about 190,000 members active on social media.  From email to Facebook and text, today that number has soared to more than 1.3 million.

Numbers he says that have helped the world's oldest civil rights organization continue its mission.

"We abolished the death penalty in 6 states in 6 years.  Just in this state last year, we abolished the death penalty.  We played a key role in passing marriage equality," Jealous said.  "President Obama won Florida by a bit over 60,000 votes.  Our folks signed up more than 120,000 new voters in the state of Florida despite repressive voter registration laws."

Now with those accomplishments under his belt, Jealous has another job to take on.

"We each get many opportunities to serve, and I hope to have more.  But we only have one chance to get it right with our kids, to get it right when they are young and right now that is the most important job that I have," Jealous said.

What will the organizer miss the most, the grassroots work.  He loved joining volunteers lobbying for important causes.

"I'm an organizer that gets me out of bed each morning is being able to go out and make the world better, make the community better and what'll miss the here the most is winning because we won again and again and again," Jealous said.

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