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Former NAACP Leader Visits ROC

Benjamin Todd Jealous, former NAACP president and CEO.
Benjamin Todd Jealous, former NAACP president and CEO.

Predicting the future of the United States is predicated on the position of its young people. That's according to Benjamin Todd Jealous, the former president of the NAACP.

Jealous was in Rochester Friday to deliver the University of Rochester's Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative message. During an interview with the media, he told reporters that any great movement the country has seen was marked by the involvement of the younger generation. He says that same zeal is still necessary today.

"In these days when we are dealing with something like voter suppression, when they have literally gone back to a bigger, heavier play book that’s harder to get on the shelf. It's not breaking the law but changing the law to suppress the vote. We’ve got to get young people out front. They will bring the energy, they will bring the drive, and they will also bring the longevity."

Jealous says it could take more than 30 years to turn the tide on social injustices in this country.

"We need people to understand that if our democracy is broken, it would be harder to advance any issue we care about because your issues are the issues of the majority of the people in this country. And if their votes are suppressed, then there'll be a different majority at the polls that exists in the country."

Jealous ended his post at the helm of the NAACP on December 31st. He says he wanted to spend more time with his family. Jealous says he plans to announce his future plans sometime in March.

Jealous began his civil rights career at the age of 18. He was the youngest president in the history of the NAACP.