Civil rights leader Ben Jealous will be visiting Gloucester for a lecture and book signing at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 5th, at the historic Gloucester Court House. Jealous is the incoming CEO of the Sierra Club and author of the new book Never Forget Our People Were Always Free: A Parable of American Healing, a work which encourages Americans to look past the deeply held divisions of the past and face the challenges of the future as a reconciled and united people.
Jealous first became nationally known when he was chosen as the youngest-ever CEO of the NAACP in 2008, where he stayed until 2013. Before joining the NAACP, Jealous worked as a reporter and managing editor for the Jackson Advocate, the executive director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, director of the US Human Rights Program at Amnesty International, and president of the Rosenberg Foundation in San Francisco. In 2018, Jealous was the Democratic nominee in Maryland’s gubernatorial race, which he lost to Larry Hogan. Most recently, Jealous was president of People For the American Way.
Jealous is originally from Maryland but was raised primarily in California, where he spent much of his childhood immersed in the natural world and taking family trips to the Sierra Nevadas. At the age of nine, he became the youngest-ever docent at the natural history museum and later worked as a tour guide at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. In his teens he cofounded the first high school chapter of the Student Environmental Action Coalition, where he organized a protest against timber clearcutting.
At the Sierra Club Jealous hopes to combine his work in civil rights with his longtime love of the natural world to make the environmental and outdoor communities more inclusive of people of color and overcome the early racism in those movements which prevented the participation of non-Whites.