Benjamin Todd Jealous

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Time for a new social contract and a dignified minimum wage

EThis summer, minimum wage workers in California abandoned their posts at fast food restaurants and retail stores for spots on the picket line. They joined workers in cities across the country to demand an increase in the minimum wage.

History can move in two directions at once

In my time as an organizer, I have been guided by the words of many people – activists and authors, colleagues and friends. But the most powerful lesson I ever received about the struggle for civil and human rights came in 1993, when my grandmother taught me that history could move in two directions at once.

Still so much has stayed the same

This past weekend I joined over 150,000 people at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. It was a powerful moment that showed us how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream is still alive, yet reminded us how far we still have to go to see it fulfilled.

We must build our greatest strength: Diversity

“For a country regarded as the paramount leader in a multicultural world, the United States has yet to embrace its own div

Felony disenfranchisement of today is a Jim Crow-era holdover

Two weeks ago, the Delaware state Legislature approved a constitutional amendment to all but remove the last Jim Crow-era voter suppression law from its books. The amendment, passed at the urging of the Delaware NAACP, allows people with nonviolent felony convictions to vote after their release from prison. This is a major victory for voting rights and a strike against the practice of “felony disenfranchisement.”

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Time to get smart on crime … to save our families, future

The United States has 5 percent of the world’s people but 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. For the sake of our families and future we must do better. Our nation leads the world in the incarceration of our own citizens, both on a per capita basis and in terms of total prison population. The problem stems from the decades-old “tough on crime” policies from the Nixon/Reagan era. We are stuck in a failed “tough on crime” mind-state that is characterized by converting low-level drug addicts into hardened criminals by repeatedly locking them up when they should be sent to rehab for drug treatment.

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Unemployment numbers reveal dangerous trend

Coming the day after the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the new unemployment numbers show that unemployment is still high ‒ and remains much higher for African Americans. One thing hasn’t changed in the last half century: if you’re a person of color, you’re more likely to be unemployed. Even though the Black unemployment rate fell by .05 percent this month, it still sits at nearly 13.3 percent, nearly double the overall rate.

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A year later, Trayvon Martin tragedy still stings

One year later, the Trayvon Martin tragedy still stings ‒ and some people are still throwing salt on the open wound. Last week George Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman, posted a tweet comparing Martin to De’Marquis Elkins, 17-year-old Black teenager charged with fatally shooting a 1-year-old baby. The tweet showed a photo of Elkins side by side with a photo of Martin, both making inappropriate gestures, with the caption “A picture speaks a thousand words. Any questions?”

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