After 5 years at its helm, Ben Jealous, the youngest person ever to head the NAACP, is stepping down. In an interview with USA Today, Jealous said that he will officially resign Dec. 31.
Under Jealous, the NAACP's donor base increased by more than 800 percent, swelling from a base of 16,422 in 2007 to 132,543 in 2012; revenue coming into the nation's largest civil rights organization nearly doubled. But Jealous is resigning to focus on his family and to eventually head other efforts, like expanding upon the vision of political organization EMILY's List. USA Today reports:
In an interview with USA TODAY, Benjamin Todd Jealous said the constant travel as president and CEO of the nation's largest civil rights organization has kept him away too much from his wife, civil rights lawyer Lia Epperson, and children, daughter Morgan, 7, and Jack, 13 months. He said he plans to make a formal announcement to his staff Monday morning.
"Leadership knows when to step up and when to step down," Jealous said. "This day I can say with pride that I'm prepared to step down and make room for the next person who will lead this organization to its next chapter."
Jealous, 40, said he is talking to a handful of schools within commuting distance of metropolitan Washington about teaching. He plans to continue work with civil rights colleagues toward raising money for a fund to promote black participation in politics. In a separate interview with USA TODAY columnist DeWayne Wickham, Jealous detailed plans to create an "EMILY's list for people of color."
Though modeled off of EMILY's List, a 28-year-old PAC with the mission of helping elect pro-choice Democratic female candidates to office, Jealous's PAC will focus on a broader range of minority candidates. And given Jealous's leadership record, there's a chance that he can accomplish this ambitious goal. From Wickham's column:
Jealous believes that Southern black politicians such as Jacksonville, Fla., Mayor Alvin Brown, and Democratic Rep. Stacey Abrams, the House minority leader in Georgia's legislature; and Hispanics such as San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and his twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, are the front ranks of a new political force. This new wave of minority politicians, Jealous said, is a byproduct of the growth in the political participation of Southern blacks and an expanding number of young whites "who are not hung up on race." Together, Jealous said, they will challenge the stranglehold conservatives have on the South.
Though it might take some time for the PAC he imagines to find black and Hispanic Republican candidates to embrace, its efforts could blur the dividing line in American politics. Already, the changing demographics in Virginia have helped turn that state from red to purple. And a PAC for candidates of color could, in a little more than a decade, transform Texas -- where whites are now just 44.5% of the population -- from a red to blue state.