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Cornell William Brooks, ’90JD: new chief for the NAACP

On the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the civil rights organization behind that landmark desegregation case chose a new leader: Cornell William Brooks, ’90JD.

“I’m a graduate of Yale Law School. I am an heir, a beneficiary, a grandson of Brown v. Board of Education, so as a consequence, I am an heir to the legacy of the NAACP,” Brooks told USA Today after the NAACP’s board of directors named him president and CEO on May 17.

An ordained minister with a master’s in divinity alongside his law degree, Brooks currently heads the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, where his work has included fighting housing discrimination, helping ex-offenders re-enter society, and bridging the digital divide. He served on Governor Chris Christie’s transition team in 2010.

Previously, Brooks held legal positions in the Federal Communications Commission, the Justice Department, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and headed the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington.

“A pioneering lawyer and civil rights leader,” Brooks “brings a wealth of knowledge and experience,” NAACP board chair Roslyn Brock says in a statement. “We look forward to leveraging his legal prowess, vision and leadership as we tackle the pressing civil rights issues of the twenty-first century.”

Among those issues, Brooks says, are voting rights, economic equality, health equity, and “an end to racial discrimination for all people.”

“There is much work to do.”


The Yale Alumni Magazine is published by Yale Alumni Publications Inc., an alumni-based nonprofit that is not run by Yale University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration.

Filed under Cornell William Brooks, NAACP, Law School
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