By Frederick H. Lowe
Cornell William Brooks, former president and CEO of the NAACP, has joined the Kennedy School at Harvard University to lead the William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice, which is named in honor of one of the founders of the Niagara Movement that led to the NAACP’s formation in 1909.
Brooks has been named professor of the practice of public leadership and social justice at the Kennedy School, which is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He will teach courses, advise students, launch and direct students.
Trotter, owner of The Boston Guardian, a weekly newspaper based in Boston, was the first black student at Harvard to graduate Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1895 and his master’s in 1896.
The Trotter Social Justice Collaborative will promote excellence in the practice of social justice by supporting applied research and the use of evidence in advocacy and activism. Brooks, an ordained minister, also will serve as a visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School.
Brooks served as the 18th president of the NAACP from 2014 to 2017, when he was ousted.
Under his leadership, the NAACP secured 12 significant legal victories, including laying the groundwork for the first statewide legal challenge to prison-based gerrymandering.
Brooks holds a law degree from Yale Law School, where he was a senior editor of the Yale Law Journal and member of the Yale Law and Policy Review.
He also earned a Master of Divinity from Boston University’s School of Theology, where he was a Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar. Brooks was born in El Paso, Texas in 1961.