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NAACP chief Brooks focuses on future

LARRY MILLER | 7/20/2015, 10:40 a.m.
Touching on topics from across the nation, including the Confederate battle flag, the recent string of church burnings in the ...
NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks speaks as the keynote speaker at the 106th annual NAACP Convention held in Philadelphia on Monday. Amy Newman of The Record of Bergen County

During the session, civil rights attorney Barbara Arnwine was presented with the William Robert Ming Advocacy Award. Ming was an attorney who was an integral part of the legal team that litigated the historic racial discrimination case Brown v. Board of Education. Arnwine said the work of the NAACP is far from over when considering the problem of mass incarceration.

“I am proud to be receiving this award during the same week that President Barack Obama will, for the first time in history, visit a prison,” she said. “The first time in history that a sitting American president will be doing so.”

Arnwine said the president is devoting a great deal of attention on ways to address inequities in the criminal justice system. On Thursday he will visit the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution outside of Oklahoma City.

“There are 1.3 million African Americans in prison,” she said. “The United States has the largest prison system of any industrialized nation. The president recognizes that it is unjust that our country has 25 percent of the world’s prisons. This week he will bring clemency to the largest number of prisoners incarcerated for non-violent offenses. There is a critical need to address the problem of mass incarceration.”