Ben Jealous

Ben Jealous.

Monterey County native and former president and CEO of the NAACP Ben Jealous was named president of the People For the American Way and People For the American Way Foundation in Washington, D.C., the boards of directors for both nonprofits announced on June 2. He is the first African American to lead the 39-year-old organization.

One of the main goals of the PFAW is to fight right-wing extremism and promote justice for the disenfranchised, fitting themes during a week of massive protests across the country in the wake of numerous killings of African Americans by police and others, and the rise of right-wing hate groups in the U.S.

“I am thrilled to be joining PFAW at this critical moment, when the people of our nation urgently need change,” Jealous said in a press release. “We are facing critical elections this fall. The pandemic has highlighted the necessity of finishing the work of MLK, Barbara Jordan (a PFAW founder, along with TV producer Norman Lear) and FDR. And the rising generation in America has made clear that we must finally and fully reform the relationship between police and our communities.”

Jealous grew up in Pacific Grove, the son of Fred Jealous, a white man, and Ann Todd Jealous, a black woman. He shared with the Weekly in 2013 what it was like to grow up on the Peninsula in the 1970s and 80s as a biracial child.

“There was a lot of life in Monterey County spread out amongst a group of activists that was wonderful and inclusive. But race was always present,” he said. He was bused to schools outside of P.G. and remembers times like when he got into a fight with another child who assumed his mother was a nanny.

Jealous was named president and CEO of the NAACP in 2008 at age 35, the youngest person to lead the organization. According to PFAW's press release, Jealous brings “decades of experience as a leader, coalition builder and campaigner for social justice, and the ability to combine the heart and soul of an organizer with the change-making skills of a seasoned nonprofit executive.”

During his five years with the NAACP, he grew that organization’s budget and donor base and positioned it at the forefront of social justice issues including the Trayvon Martin case, voter ID laws and New York Police Department’s controversial stop-and-frisk policies.

He also pushed the more than 100-year-old group to fight more aggressively for marriage equality. In addition, he led voter registration efforts and worked to help pass the Affordable Care Act during President Barack Obama’s first term.

Jealous was the Democratic candidate for governor of Maryland in 2018, losing to Republican incumbent Larry Hogan, 43 to 55 percent. He recently served as a partner at Kapor Capital, an Oakland-based investment group that invests in tech businesses run by women and underrepresented people of color.

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(2) comments

James Baldwin

Michael Silva is correct! What about the extreme left? There are extremes on both sides! But there are also moderates on both sides! To say in this article that this man is President for the people of the American way is a bit of a stretch! The American way should be the Constitutional way, the lawful way, the way in which everyone benefits no matter what their beliefs!!! However as another article you posted where a police officer is being fired and chastised for his beliefs and his stance on the second amendment, which is all the 3 Percenters and the term Molon Labe is, is being falsely misrepresented! It seems to me that all anyone cares about is labeling Conservatives that care about our Republic as right wing extremists!!! This is nothing but reverse hate speech in its entirety and must also stop! If you truly want change stop trying to turn our Constitutional Republic into a Socialist Union!

Michael Slva

Why is there only Right Wing Extremist? If you and everyone else in the media was truthful, you'd look at Antifa and say they were extremely radial and harmful. How are they helping mend fences? Yet, when people out of work and being told they must stay in place, i.e. flatten the curve-and they do a PEACEFUL protest, they're called radicals, extremists and white supremacists, yet there was not rioting, looting, etc... To say that racism is only a "white" problem is short sighted. However, to say we are a Nation of racism is wrong and not truthful. Does racism exist, you're darn right, but it is on both sides-right and LEFT.

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