STARKVILLE — Cornell Williams Brooks, former president and CEO of the NAACP, will speak at Mississippi State University on Feb. 21.
Shackouls Honors College at Mississippi State University will present its third and final Orators Lecture Series of the year at 4 p.m. in the Fowlkes Auditorium, located in the Colvard Student Union on the MSU campus.
Brooks, a graduate of Jackson State University, will speak on “Reimagining Mississippi’s Past for America’s Future,” as part of the university’s recognition of Black History Month.
The Orators Lecture Series, created by Donna L. Clevinger, senior faculty fellow and professor of communication/theater at the honors college, is a three-times-a-year program. Speakers representing various academic disciplines are invited to engage and enrich the campus and local communities through public forums, panel discussions, seminars, course work, research and public lectures. Since the honors college touches all colleges at MSU, stakeholders from each college and its departments help select speakers for a particular year.
Each year, there is a specific theme. For the 2021-2022 year, the theme is “Acts of Tolerance vs Acts of Punishment: Taking the Journey to Find Justice.”
Brooks is the Hauser Professor of the Practice of Nonprofit Organizations and professor of the Practice of Public Leadership and Social Justice at Harvard Kennedy School. He serves as director of The William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice at the School’s Center for Public Leadership and serves as visiting professor of the Practice of Prophetic Religion and Public Leadership at Harvard Divinity School.
Brooks also is a civil rights attorney, ordained minister, orator, writer and the executive producer of two films.
Under his leadership, the NAACP secured 12 significant legal victories, including laying the groundwork for the first statewide legal challenge to prison-based gerrymandering. He also reinvigorated the activist social justice heritage of the NAACP, increasing membership. He conceived and led the “America’s Journey for Justice” march from Selma, Alabama, to Washington, D.C., over 40 days and 1,000 miles, among many other demonstrations.
Prior to leading the NAACP, Brooks was president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. He previously served as senior counsel and acting director of the Office of Communications Business Opportunities at the Federal Communications Commission, executive director of the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington, and a trial attorney at both the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the U.S. Department of Justice.
He was the executive producer of the CNN docuseries “The People v. the Klan.” Brooks holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was a senior editor of the Yale Law Journal and member of the Yale Law & Policy Review, and a Master of Divinity from Boston University’s School of Theology, where he was a Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar.
He is a fourth-generation ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.