(CNN) — Cornell William Brooks, hailed as a “pioneering lawyer and civil rights leader,” has been selected as the new president and CEO of the NAACP, the civil rights organization announced Saturday.
The human rights activist and longtime attorney, who once worked as a senior counsel for the Federal Communications Commission, said in a statement issued by the NAACP, that he was “deeply humbled and honored to be entrusted with the opportunity to lead this historic organization.”
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.
“In our fight to ensure voting rights, economic equality, health equity, and an end to racial discrimination for all people, there is much work to do. I look forward to working with the dynamic board and staff, and continuing the important work of the Association in advancing racial and social justice and equality for all,” Brooks said in the statement.
He’ll be formally introduced to the NAACP membership at the group’s national convention in Las Vegas in July.
“Mr. Brooks is a pioneering lawyer and civil rights leader, who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Association,” NAACP Board Chairman Roslyn M. Brock said in a statement. “We look forward to leveraging his legal prowess, vision and leadership as we tackle the pressing civil rights issues of the 21st century.”
Brooks, a fourth-generation ordained minister, has been serving as president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice in Newark.
“Brooks has worked to pass legislation enabling previously incarcerated men and women to rebuild their lives as productive and responsible citizens,” the NAACP said in a statement.
“He successfully pushed for state legislation to reduce the effects of widespread foreclosures. Mr. Brooks has worked to develop social impact investing tools to employ more people in higher wage work.”
He also worked as executive director of the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington and as an attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a group started at President John F. Kennedy’s request in 1963.
“He has also campaigned tirelessly as an advocate for public education, affordable health care, and fiscal responsibility,” the NAACP said.
Brooks has a bachelor’s degree from Jackson State University, a master of divinity from Boston University School of Theology, and a juris doctorate from Yale Law School.
Last year, Benjamin Todd Jealous stepped down as president of the NAACP after five years.
Jealous was a prominent voice against laws that the NAACP argued made it harder to vote, such as voter ID laws passed in numerous states in the past several years, and was outspoken over the February 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen shot to death by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer.
Lorraine C. Miller has been serving as the NAACP’s interim president and CEO.
By Carma Hassan