Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO of the NAACP, delivered the 21st annual W.E.B. Du Bois Lecture at Bard College at Simon’s Rock on Wednesday, April 26, at 7:00 p.m.
Since assuming the role of president in 2014, Brooks—a civil rights attorney, social justice advocate, fourth-generation ordained minister, and coalition builder—led the Association in its fight for equality for all American citizens. Under his leadership, the NAACP increased its membership, strengthened partnerships, and initiated alliances, building critical support for its civil rights agenda, including education reform, criminal justice regulatory reform, and voting rights.
In the Spring of 2016, the NAACP, Greenpeace, and the Communications Workers of America organized and led the march at Democracy Awakening, a weekend of workshops, rallies, speeches, and demonstrations that The Nation called “The Most Important Protest of the 2016 Election.” Brooks continued to make news defending the NAACP’s moratorium on charter schools, getting arrested protesting Jeff Sessions’ nomination for Attorney General, and decrying evidence of a resurgence of KKK activity in the present political climate. Two months after his arrest outside Sessions’ office, Brooks and Sessions met to discuss voting rights, voter suppression, police misconduct, and civil rights.
“I am pleased to welcome Cornell William Brooks to Simon’s Rock and to Great Barrington, the hometown of W. E. B. Du Bois. Du Bois was instrumental in founding the NAACP, and he was a champion for the liberal arts and sciences as essential for democracy,” said Simon's Rock Provost Ian Bickford. “President Brooks has been an important voice in renewing Du Bois’s legacy in the fight for social justice and economic equality—an especially important legacy in today’s political climate, and especially meaningful for Simon’s Rock students seeking to create change.”
The annual W.E.B. Du Bois Lecture at Simon’s Rock celebrates the legacy of Great Barrington native, civil rights activist, and NAACP founding member, W.E.B. Du Bois. With the renewed visibility and voice President Brooks has brought to the NAACP, it was particularly fitting for him talk with students and the community about issues crucial for Du Bois and for our democracy. The year’s lecture was presented in partnership with The Center for Early College at Bard College, the Berkshire County Branch of the NAACP, Multicultural BRIDGE, and the Town of Great Barrington.