Former NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous is launching his political career, citing his long record on civil rights and the diversity of the state of Maryland as a good match in his favor.
“When I was president of the NAACP I learned just how quickly my neighbors were prepared to move forward on civil rights. In one year, we abolished the death penalty, passed marriage equality and the Dream Act. I’m running for governor because I believe we’re prepared to move just as quickly in moving forward on our education, on employment, on the environment—while continuing to protect civil rights.”
Jealous was born in Pacific Grove, California to a mixed-race couple who met in Baltimore. His father Fred Jealous (who was white), helped integrate lunch counters in the deep South. His mother, Ann Jealous, worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee members in the 1960s. As a teenager, Jealous became steeped in civil and voting rights work and spent summers in Baltimore with his maternal grandparents.
Jealous’s career has been interwoven with both civil rights and politics. Between 2000 and 2004 he served as Executive Director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA); earlier in his career, he’d worked as an editor for the historic Advocate newspaper in Jackson, Mississippi.
If he wins, Jealous would become the nation’s fourth black governor in modern history, following in the footsteps of Virginia’s L. Douglas Wilder, elected in 1989; Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2010; and New York Gov. David Paterson, elected as Lieutenant Governor, who served two years after the resignation of Gov. Eliot Spitzer in 2008.