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Rev. Cornell William Brooks Joins Brennan Center as Senior Fellow

Cornell William Brooks, former president and CEO of the NAACP, will join the Brennan Center as Senior Fellow in September 2017.

August 22, 2017

New York, N.Y. –  Cornell William Brooks, former president and CEO of the NAACP, will join the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law as Senior Fellow in September 2017.
Brooks served as the 18th president of the NAACP, leading the organization from 2014 through 2017. The NAACP scored significant wins under his leadership, placing civil rights concerns at the forefront of the national dialogue. During this period the NAACP secured 11 legal victories in 12 months against voter suppression laws across the country. In the wake of Trump’s inauguration, Brooks led and was among those arrested for protesting the nomination of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. These arrests and sit-ins were widely covered in the media and energized the opposition to other anti-civil rights nominees of the Trump administration.
Brooks also led a record number of marches and demonstrations across the nation during these years, inspiring generationally unprecedented volumes of activism from millennials and pre-millennials. He led a 1002 mile march from Selma to D.C. against voter suppression and police misconduct, America’s Journey for Justice, galvanizing congressional support for stronger voting rights protections. Mr. Brooks also directed a 134 mile seven-day march in Missouri to demand justice for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. Mr. Brooks and a generationally diverse coalition organized the Democracy Awakening demonstration and a record 1,400 civil disobedience arrests at the U.S. Capitol, which The Nation magazine called “The Most Important Protest of the 2016 Election.” Through increased activism, the annual rate of online membership of the NAACP grew by nearly 90%, with traditional membership growing as well; and raising $80 million dollars.

Brooks currently serves a regular Contributor for CNN as well as Visiting Professor of Social Ethics, Law and Justice Movements, hosted by Boston University School of Theology and Law School.
Brooks has built a strong record of activism and deep-seated commitment to the fight for civil rights. Prior to his time at the NAACP, Brooks served as President and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, where he advanced key criminal justice reform in the state. He also served as Executive Director of the of the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington, as Senior Counsel with the Federal Communications Commission, and as a Trial Attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Brooks is a graduate of Yale Law School. He also holds a Master of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology, and a B.A. from Jackson State University.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Cornell William Brooks to the Center,” said Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center. “He has been a powerful and uncommonly thoughtful and effective voice for racial equality and equal justice under the law. We look forward to drawing on his experience and insight, and to working with him on the fight for American ideals.” 
“Well before, during, and since leaving the NAACP, I’ve drawn from the wellspring of justice at the Brennan Center. Like so many, I’ve relied upon the intellectual capital, research and inspiration of the Center,” said Cornell William Brooks. “Accordingly, I am all the more enthused to join as a long admirer and new colleague.”
Brooks will serve as a non-resident Senior Fellow. To schedule an interview, contact Beatriz Aldereguia (, 646–292–8369).