Former Head of NAACP
For Cornell Brooks, becoming the leader of the nation’s oldest, largest and most widely respected civil rights organization is the culmination of both a notable career advocating for equality and justice and an enduring family legacy of fighting for civil rights. He proudly notes that his personal and professional journey was sparked when, as a college student, a highly moving keynote speaker motivated him to study the U.S. Constitution, the Bible and the complete writings of Dr. Martin Luther King. Brooks has picked up the mantle of the powerful orators that have influenced his speaking style, inspiring audiences to broaden their perspectives, expand their definition of inclusion and diversity, eliminate inequality and honor the history and ever-evolving mission of the civil and human rights movement. Read More >
Race Relations and the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement
Transformational Leadership - Boston University
MLK - Yale University
Student Activism - Cabrini College
Irrelevance or Revolution? - NAACP Convention
With the U.S. on track to become a minority majority by 2043, racial economic inequality, including healthcare disparities, increasingly impedes the country’s economic advancement. Cornell Brooks examines healthcare disparities from his leadership role at the NAACP, citing data gathered in the NAACP’s Opportunity and Diversity Report Card on the Healthcare Industry and his longtime service on the board of a New Jersey hospital. He also brings the moving narrative of viewing the nation’s health disparities through the eyes of his father, a physician in the low country of South Carolina. Brooks saw his father’s patients suffering the many maladies of the poor, including hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. According to Cornell Brooks, “We have to think about people who are holding on to the ragged edge of their own existence, with a very fragile grip on health.”
Ferguson. Staten Island. North Charleston. Cleveland. Cornell Brooks has traveled the nation, led a 40-day march from Selma to Washington, D.C. and continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with those advocating for justice and change. As the 18th president of the NAACP, Brooks united groups as diverse as the AFL-CIO, Sierra Club and National LGBTQ Task Force. He also actively embraced Black Lives Matter within the evolving continuum of civil rights activism. In this informative and motivational presentation, Brooks calls on everyone to promote the cause of justice and join a multi-racial, multi-faith, multi-generational movement that welcomes people from all sexual orientations and walks of life. “It can’t just be the righteous few,” he says. “There’s got to be an ever-growing many that’s not just saying what’s wrong, but what can be made right.”
“The words and work, the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King are far too important to be relegated to the gilded pages of history books.” Cornell Brooks sees Dr. King’s “words and work, life and legacy are a part of our nation’s Twitter feed” and believes that “we must be reminded of Dr. King’s service, sacrifice and eloquence of example, not just on Martin Luther King Day, but every day.” As both a Martin Luther King Scholar and student of Dr. King’s works, Cornell Brooks challenges all Americans to “emulate his personal example, draw from his philosophy, and in so doing, make this country the very best that it can be.”
All around the world, people are facing threats to their human rights. From orphans in war zones to immigrants seeking to escape both physical threats and economic deprivation, Cornell Brooks reminds us that, a generation ago, Martin Luther King spoke about the world as a global village. He calls upon all of us to “stand up for the human rights of all members of this village, irrespective of their color, their creed, their hue or their heritage.” In a time of Islamophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment and calls to build walls, Brooks confronts intolerance and exclusion and reminds us that Dr. King’s vision of a global village must continue to guide our future.
"From your talk to the subsequent conversation to dinner, it was a remarkable event. You talk resonated with so many members of the Penn community. The expectation that education should serve a civil right, and your assertion that educational debates have a moral urgency to them align perfectly with our mission. The impact of your presence is still reverberating."
"We are appreciative of the kind and generous spirit you displayed to the National Center staff, as well as to others you met in Montgomery. Most of all, we are grateful for the powerful address you delivered to our audience. Your oratorical talents, keen analysis of history, and unusual ability to connect current events to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, combined with your deep spiritual bent, made your address one of the most memorable in the seventeen-year-history of this program."