Former NAACP President to Speak as Part of BSU Unity Week

Former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous. Photo provided.Former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous. Photo provided.

 By: Ball State Division of Strategic Communications—

Former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous will talk about how our country’s forgotten history of race continues to haunt us in ways big and small when he visits Ball State Jan. 20.

Jealous will deliver the Martin Luther King Speaker Series keynote address, “The Forgotten Origins and Consequences of Race in America,” at 7:30 p.m. in Pruis Hall as part of the university’s Unity Week, which starts on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. All of its events are free and open to the public.

“During Unity Week, we challenge perspectives on diversity, inclusivity and solidarity in an evolving social climate,” said Ro-Anne Royer Engle, director of the Multicultural Center. “Benjamin Jealous will provide a much-needed historical context that everyone should hear as we are challenged to find ways to reconcile lessons from the past with our current experiences.”

At the age of 35, Jealous became the youngest president in the history of the NAACP, which he led from 2008 to 2013. During his tenure, he was praised for getting younger activists involved in the organization and strengthening its ties with other advocacy groups.

A Rhodes Scholar, Jealous holds degrees from Columbia and Oxford universities and has worked as a journalist, community organizer and activist, appearing regularly on cable news. He also was founding director of Amnesty International’s Human Rights Program. Today he is a partner at the Silicon Valley venture capitalist firm, Kapor Capital, where he plans to grow opportunities for minorities in the tech economy. He also edited the 2015 book “Reach: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading and Succeeding,” a collection of essays from prominent figures in the black community.

Unity Week will begin Jan. 18 with the Martin Luther King Jr. community breakfast at 9 a.m. in the L.A Pittenger Student Center, Cardinal Hall. This year’s theme is “Challenging Perspectives.”

Other events are:

  • MLK Unity March: 11 a.m. Jan. 18, Ball State Multicultural Center
  • MLK Worship Service: 6 p.m. Jan.18, Destiny Christian Center International, 5000 E. Centennial Ave.
  • Hate Crimes (documentary showing and panel discussion): 7-9 p.m. Jan. 19, Student Center Forum Room
  • Tunnel of Oppression (an interactive simulation exploring oppression of social groups): 7-9 p.m. Jan. 21, Student Center Ballroom
  • MLK Memorial Concert: 7:30-8:30 p.m. Jan. 21, Sursa Hall
  • Latinopalooza (Latino Student Union-sponsored showcase of Ball State students’ talents): 6-8 p.m. Jan. 22, Student Center Ballroom
  • Unity Connections Conference: 9 a.m-2:30 p.m. Jan. 23, Student Center
  • Unity Scholarship Pageant: 6-8:30 p.m. Jan. 23, Pruis Hall

For more information, visit

Unity Week is sponsored by the Office of the President, Division of Student Affairs, Office of Student Life, Multicultural Center, Student Voluntary Services, Housing and Residence Life, Office of Institutional Diversity, Martin Luther King Jr. Planning Committee, Latino Student Union, Spectrum, Black Student Association, Asian American Student Association, Student Government Association and School of Music.