Benjamin Jealous

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Benjamin Jealous

Benjamin Jealous (born January 18, 1973) is an American venture capitalist, civic leader and former president and chief executive officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He is currently a partner at Kapor Capital, Board Chairman of the Southern Elections Fund and one of the John L. Weinberg/Goldman Sachs Visiting Professors at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School.

Benjamin Jealous has been President of the Rosenberg Foundation, Executive Director of the National Newspaper Publisher Association and director of the US Human Rights Program at Amnesty International. He led the NAACP during its largest and most successful voter registration drive in 2012 when the association registered over 360,000 African Americans.[1]


Jealous was born in Pacific Grove, Calif. His parents met in Baltimore. His father, Fred Jealous, helped integrate lunch counters in the South. His mother, Ann Todd, worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s. As a teenager, Mr. Jealous became steeped in civil rights and voting rights work and spent summers in Baltimore with his maternal grandparents.

In 1966, Ann Todd, a descendant of enslaved Africans from Madagascar, and Fred Jealous, whose ancestors followed the Pilgrims to Massachusetts, were two teachers living in Baltimore when they decided to get married. The Loving decision was still a year away, and 17 states, including Maryland, prohibited interracial marriage. Fred’s grandfather disinherited him when he heard the news. Determined to push ahead, the wedding party formed a caravan to Washington, DC, where they could legally tie the knot.

After the ceremony, Fred and Ann moved to California and settled in a quiet, almost entirely white town near Big Sur called Pacific Grove. Although Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., who studied Ben Jealous’ ancestry on his show Finding Your Roots, joked that he was the “whitest black man we’ve ever tested,” Jealous has never struggled with his identity, in part because of the circumstances in which his parents married.

Jealous’ political baptism came in 1988, when as a short, stuttering 14-year-old, he registered voters for Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign.

Jealous, whose five-year-old son is named for the reverend, watched the next year as two African American followers of Jackson—Doug Wilder and David Dinkins—won elections in Virginia and New York City. Candidates tend to shirk historical comparisons, but Jealous’ run is explicitly based on one: Bernie is 1988, and he is 1989.

“Jackson’s campaign says you can make social movements matter with a campaign; Wilder and Dinkins showed you could make social movements stronger and win,” he told me. “In each case they started out with the ashes of a failed presidential primary bid and would build a coalition that was much larger and much more inclusive—and that’s fundamentally what we’re doing here.”[2]


Two people influenced Jealous’ decision to attend Columbia. One was Henry Littlefield ’54, ’67 GSAS, his headmaster at the York School, a college preparatory Episcopal day school in Monterey where Jealous says he learned to “read and process copious amounts of information, read critically and write persuasively.” Little, who attended Columbia during the Depression on financial aid, made a strong pitch for the College.

The other influence was Judge Robert B. Watts, a family friend and civil rights lawyer. Watts, who in 1961 was the first African-American judge appointed to the municipal court in Baltimore, taught Jealous how to argue and debate and cultivated his earlier desire to become a civil rights lawyer. “He would walk into my grandparents’ house when I was 4, my earliest memory, and say, ‘What do you want to fight about, Jealous? Debate with me.’ He was a big man and would always send tremors down my spine. Eventually, I just decided I wasn’t going to be afraid of him, and I’d be ready for him. I’d be ready to debate.”

When Watts learned Jealous was deciding among several colleges, he insisted he consider only Columbia. “ ‘You need to go find Jack Greenberg [’45, ’48L], and you need to learn from him,’ ” Jealous recalls Watts saying of the noted civil rights lawyer. Dean of the College from 1989–93, Greenberg argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in 40 cases, including Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, which declared “separate but equal” unconstitutional in public schools. He also held roles with the NAACP as assistant counsel for the Legal Defense and Educational Fund and director-counsel for 35 years through 1984. “That’s why I came to Columbia,” Jealous says. “I literally came looking for Jack.”

Once on the Columbia campus, a number of people inspired and mentored Jealous. A political science major, Jealous first talks of Professor Charles V. Hamilton, the WS Sayre Pro­fessor Emeritus of Government, and Carlton Long, his Con­temporary Civilization professor — his first black male teachers.

“They taught political science, even political theory, in a way that was very relevant to the everyday lives of working families in this country. It was really politics from the bottom up. It was theory applied to the problems of everyday life, and it inspired me,” Jealous says. He also was impressed by Hamilton’s role as one of the architects of David Dinkins’ New York City mayoral campaign and his co-authorship of Black Power: The Pol­itics of Liberation, a “revolutionary work [that] exposed the depths of systemic racism in this country and provided a radical political frame­work for reform.”

Long, 26 at the time and just back from a Rhodes Scholarship, urged Jealous to apply for the scholarship. Along with Barnard adjunct associate professor of political science Judith Russell, Long served as a mentor to Jealous. Jealous calls Russell and Long examples of teachers both inside the classroom (Jealous took Russell’s urban political sociology seminar) and outside who “really invested in you over years, and not just the duration of the course.”

A third consistent campus presence was Father Bill Starr, the longtime Episcopal campus minister. “Bill’s office offered a particular sub-culture on campus,” Jealous says. “He provided a sense of spiritual guidance and encouragement to student activists.”

Starr says he encouraged students to “take sides, or at least to try to figure out what was really important to them and how they wanted to live their lives.” He describes Jealous not only as a “constructive, critical voice,” but also someone who “really showed a lot of organizing and leadership skills… I was always on the lookout for students like Ben, because he added a lot of vitality to what we were trying to do as an issue-oriented campus ministry that tries to connect what people are doing in their studies and what they’re planning to do with their lives.”

These positive relationships were juxtaposed with what Jealous describes as a racially tense New York City in the early 1990s. “It was tough to come from a small town where everybody knew you to a big city where nobody did. I had racial graffiti on my dorm room in the first week on a poster on my wall.” Another student reported racial slurs and feces on her dorm room door. A college Republican group organized a cookout next to hunger-striking students of color who were protesting the U.S. repatriation policy of Haitians. Students also protested the absence of authors of color in the Core Curriculum, and the lack of diverse faculty of color or an African-American studies program. Off campus, under the Dinkins mayoral administration, race riots erupted in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn in 1991, spurred by the death of an African-American boy.

Jealous found comfort in the Black Student Organization, which he refers to as “always a place where people accepted you without even knowing your name.” He later served as president of the group, which Dyson describes as “the umbrella organization for all student organizations in the African Diaspora, but also probably the most politically active organization on campus.”

Jealous spent a significant amount of his free time as a community organizer and student activist, roles that eventually led to his suspension from Columbia for organizing a protest during his junior year. Three projects took center stage: work with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), his founding and involvement with the Harlem Restoration Project Youth Corps and two student protests, one involving financial aid and need-blind admissions and the second concerning the preservation of the building where Malcolm X was assassinated.

At 18 and frustrated with his work-study job in the economics department, Jealous went looking for Greenberg. Jealous recalls his voice choking when they met. Greenberg was a well-known protégé of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who eventually took on Marshall’s NAACP role. Fortuitously, a few months after they met, the NAACP LDF called Greenberg asking for student help. Greenberg arranged an internship for Jealous, one that later turned into an ongoing program for other students.

Jealous’ longest and last assignment included outreach as a community organizer in Harlem. He helped put together a campaign to save ob/gyn and neonatal intensive care beds at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital at 114th Street — beds that were accessible to Central and West Harlem residents. The hospital had facilities at two sites: 114th Street and 59th Street. “The hospital administrators and planners expected 59th Street to gentrify, so it downsized the uptown site,” says Marianne Lado, former LDF lawyer and now general counsel for New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. “It was planning to move all ob/gyn, pediatric and neonatal intensive care beds downtown.”[3]

Living in New York also brought him closer to his godbrother, the comedian Dave Chappelle, whose father was best friends with Fred. Jealous was such a ubiquitous presence at Chappelle’s Manhattan comedy gigs that he was known to bystanders simply as “Chappelle’s Puerto Rican bodyguard.” (One of his first fundraisers featured a meet and greet with the comic.)

Eric Garcetti, Ben Jealous

At Columbia, Jealous befriended another Californian with a mixed racial background and an activist streak, Eric Garcetti, and they teamed up in a series of clashes with the administration. The duo staked out a university-owned convenience store to catch the clerks refusing service to the homeless, and when Columbia’s trustees were considering scrapping need-blind admission, Jealous and Garcetti helped organize a blockade of the building where the meeting took place. Stylistically, they represented contrasting approaches to the same ends. Garcetti, the son of then-LA District Attorney Gil Garcetti, conducted back-channel negotiations; Jealous climbed through a window to crash the meeting. “Maybe they thought I was quote-unquote ‘somebody reasonable,'” says Garcetti, now the mayor of Los Angeles. “They might have seen him as more radical.” In the end, the program was saved, but Jealous was put on notice.[4]

Jealous, however, was not one to heed requests to mute his activism. Determined to stop the university from tearing down the ballroom where Malcolm X was shot, Jealous led another blockade of an administration building, preventing Greenberg from leaving until he and his fellow protesters had listed their demands. He was kicked off campus for a semester.

The suspension didn’t prevent him from becoming a Rhodes Scholar. He graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in political science, then earned a master’s in comparative social research from the University of Oxford.[5]


In 1993, Jealous moved to Mississippi, taking an $85-a-week job as an organizer in Jackson, where the Republican governor had proposed eliminating the state’s historically black public universities (HBCUs) to save money. (In the coup de grâce, one was to be replaced with a prison.) To a kid from Pacific Grove, Mississippi was another world, in which the 1860s, to say nothing of the 1960s, had never ended. Medgar Evers’ assassin was only just then standing trial, and the Ku Klux Klan had threatened to retaliate against the HBCU organizers if they continued their protest. Jealous spent a night in jail after one demonstration and narrowly avoided worse trouble when his friend Chappelle flew down for an event with a bag of weed in his duffel. They were later pulled over and nearly arrested; they were spared when one of the cops recognized Chappelle—”Boy, didn’t I see you on Def [Comedy] Jam last night?”

Much of the work on the ground was still being done by old-line civil rights activists, such as the crusading newspaper editor Charles Tisdale, who after the successful organizing campaign would hire Jealous as an investigative reporter at his paper, the Jackson Advocate. The Advocate‘s offices had been firebombed twice by the Klan in the 1980s and would be torched again three years after Jealous left. “He doubled our security,” Alice Tisdale, the publisher, joked of Jealous, who quickly worked his way up to managing editor.

Most of Jealous’ Advocate bylines were incremental attempts to correct a deliberately broken system of justice—one series of articles helped clear a black farmer who’d been wrongly accused of arson; another compelled the state to relocate an inmate who’d testified against a homicidal guard. “The Bible talks about [how] you really have to hate injustice, you have to hate evil, and you have to have a burning inside of you,” Tisdale says. “And I think Ben realizes that.” But Jealous also saw glimmers of hope. He often describes an encounter late one night at a Waffle House. He and a few HBCU organizers were sitting in a booth when a rough-looking white man walked over with a carryout bag. The man recognized them from the local news; he called them “boys” and used the word “nigger.” It had been a long day, and they were on edge. They thought he was about to pull a gun—but instead he shook their hands and offered to write them a check.[6]

Back to Columbia

Jealous returned to Columbia after two years down South, more focused on his studies but still uncertain about his future. “I used to wonder what direction his life would go,” says Judith Russell, a Columbia professor whom Jealous considered a mentor. “He just has a sensitivity to him about ethical matters that’s kind of spiritual.” He started working for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and was increasingly involved with the Episcopal Church. His grades improved, and after graduating two years late in 1996, he followed Eric Garcetti to Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship. (The two have remained close; Jealous even wore Garcetti’s graduation gown at his Oxford commencement.) Before he left for England, Jealous and a few Rhodes scholars appeared on Charlie Rose to discuss the future. It was a showcase for America’s brightest young things in an era of economic prosperity, but Jealous’ forecast was overcast. Jealous couldn’t shake the suspicion, he said, “that this social revolution might have taken a bad turn—that a lot of the people who may 20 years ago have gone into public interest law now are going to Wall Street.”

When he returned to New York, Jealous spent a year training to be a priest and moved into a home in Harlem for people with addictions who had been diagnosed with HIV, a period he describes as a “spiritual antidote to the decadence of Oxford.” Jealous’ experiences in New York and Mississippi had nurtured a “profound sense of betrayal,” he later told Julian Bond, the iconic civil rights leader and longtime NAACP chairman. The children of the civil rights generation had been told “that the playing field was now fair,” but instead they were coming of age “just in time to find ourselves the most murdered generation in this country, the most incarcerated generation on the planet.”[7]

Eaddy connection

Jotaka Eaddy June 26 2018:


So many good emotions -- if you know me - you know that Ben Jealous has been my friend, brother, mentor, partner in good trouble for more than 22 years. No words to express how proud I am tongiht. Now let's win in November! #Benjealous #MyFamilyisDope

Abrams connection

Ben Jealous May 22, 2018;

25 years ago Stacey Abrams and I met at a training for student organizers. She told me then she would be the first black governor of Georgia.
I told her I believed her.
Tonight, millions upon millions more do too! And a coalition of people across our nation are building a progressive wave to make sure working families once again govern our priorities.
Congratulations Stacey!

Foundation work

Although his goals seem lofty, Jealous has spent much of his time making sweeping improvements to nonprofit organizations around the country. Prior to joining the NAACP, he worked at the Rosenberg Foundation, a 70-year-old grant-making institution focused on economic inclusion and human rights for Californians, where he redesigned the grants program, making space for new investments in criminal justice reform. Previously, in his role as director of the U.S. Human Rights Program for Amnesty International, Jealous focused on ending racial and religious profiling, sentencing juveniles to life without the possibility of parole, and prison rape.[8]

Sharpton/Jackson connection



Benjamin Jealous.jpg

At a time when many of his peers were drifting away from the old-guard civil rights institutions, Jealous embraced them. Inspired by his experiences with the Tisdales, he spent three years as executive director of an association of black newspaper publishers—the informational lifeblood of the civil rights era that had fallen on hard times at the end of the millennium. That stint was followed by three years as the director of the US human rights program at Amnesty International. The group’s signature accomplishment during his tenure was the abolition of the juvenile death penalty—another example, as he tells it, of the virtues of coalition-building. The objective was to get a majority of states to ban the sentence, so that the Supreme Court could find it “unusual” (in addition to “cruel”). First, organizers from campus Amnesty and NAACP groups hit on the idea to join forces with campus pro-life groups. Then, instead of focusing their energies on moderate lawmakers, they appealed to rock-ribbed conservatives and liberals alike. It sounds like a West Wing plot, but it worked, and in places where groups like Amnesty did not generally have much sway—their biggest victories were in South Dakota and Wyoming.

By the time he took over the NAACP in 2008 at the age of 35, the national mood had shifted. Barack Obama was ascendant, and even some African Americans were wondering about the purpose of an aging civil rights group in the age of a black president. Jealous’ predecessor spoke freely of a “post-civil rights” era. A New York Times Magazine profile of Jealous and other young black political leaders asked if Obama marked “the end of black politics.”

The selection process brought many of these anxieties to the surface. Critics seized on Jealous’ age, light skin, and lack of connections to the black church (an ironic complaint, given his still-recent flirtation with the priesthood). “He has had no presence in black leadership at all,” fretted one San Francisco minister. “At best, he has been a technocrat.” But Bond, who was just 25 when he was elected to the Georgia Legislature, was impressed by Jealous and saw his youth as an asset. “Ben’s selection would not have happened but not for Julian Bond,” says Wade Henderson, an NAACP veteran who served on the selection committee. Nor was Jealous entirely unfamiliar to the organization, having worked for the Legal Defense Fund in college—historically the NAACP’s more pugilistic arm. (It was at the LDF where Jealous met his now ex-wife, Lia Epperson, a civil rights attorney.)

Jealous viewed the Obama era as an opportunity to reorient the organization. The NAACP had accomplished a lot in its 100-plus years, but it had long harbored a conservative streak. Some board members wanted the organization to transition toward community services—rather than attacking structural racism—and placed a premium on respectability politics. The year before Jealous arrived, the NAACP held a funeral for the N-word. Not for the first time, it faced a generational divide. Younger activists, to whom the idea of a racial end-of-history seemed absurd, were gravitating to more combative groups such as Van JonesColor of Change. “It was a train wreck inside a circus on a sinking ship,” Jones says. “They were running out of money. They were not taking on relevant issues. They were just kind of an internally focused dinosaur.”

He placed the group at the fore of high-profile civil rights cases. When Trayvon Martin was shot, he all but moved to Sanford, Florida, to fight stand-your-ground laws. But his biggest successes again involved unlikely coalitions. He signed on to a gender discrimination lawsuit against Walmart—typically outside the NAACP’s purview—and used that as leverage to convince the nation’s largest private employer to hire ex-convicts. In 2012 and 2013 in Maryland, where the organization was headquartered, the NAACP helped pass marriage equality, a DREAM Act, and the abolition of the death penalty—an intersectional triple play that Jealous rattles off to almost everyone he meets. “Marriage equality was not something that was necessarily easily solved, particularly in an organization where the clergy plays an important role in the leadership,” Henderson says. “Ben used personal capital to make that happen.” By the time he left in 2013, citing stresses on his family, the organization’s membership numbers were back on the rise and its fundraising was booming. The biggest complaint upon his departure was that he had left too soon.[9]

Julian Bond introduces new NAACP president Ben Jealous

During the NAACP’s 14-month search for a new executive, Benjamin Jealous, an experienced civil and human rights activist, emerged as the favorite of Chairman Julian Bond. His resume contrasted sharply with outgoing president Bruce Gordon, a former telecom executive who wanted the organization to focus on social services. The board believed the organization should continue fighting discrimination through the justice system, a long-term focus of the NAACP, which marked its 100th anniversary on February 12.

In September 2008, he beat out 200 candidates, including finalists Rev. Frederick D. Haynes III, the senior pastor of a Dallas mega-church, and Alvin Brown, a former White House official and member of the Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign, to become the leader of the NAACP, which Jealous calls “a volunteer army for social change.”

Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and a member of the NAACP presidential selection committee, says, “It seemed especially appropriate to look for someone who is capable of respecting the cherished traditions of the organization but who is prepared to put them in a new light to bring new energy and new vision to an organization very much in need of recasting itself for the challenges ahead.”[10]

New team

Benjamin Jealous brought with him a team of experienced civil and human rights advocates, many of whom have worked for the NAACP and allied organizations. They included Monique Morris ’94, former head of the Discrimination Research Center at UC Berkeley; Steve Hawkins, former litigator for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, whom Jealous credits with rebuilding the anti-death penalty movement in this country; Roger Vann, a former head of the Connecticut ACLU who also has held leadership roles with the NAACP at the state and national levels; and Maxim Thorne, who has served as a nonprofit senior executive, fundraiser, attorney and activist.[11]

Sherrod incident

In 2010, Andrew Breitbart published a video on his fledgling conservative news site of an Agriculture Department employee named Shirley Sherrod appearing to boast to an NAACP chapter about discriminating against a white farmer. Speaking for the organization, Jealous said he was “appalled” by her comments. But Sherrod’s remarks had been edited—in the next breath, she had talked about getting past her impulse and helping the farmer anyway. The NAACP retracted its statement. Jealous said he’d been “snookered.”

The fiasco marked the beginning of a friendship between Jealous and the Sherrods. The couple ran a public land trust near their home in Albany, Georgia, and in 2011, Jealous drove down from Maryland and spent part of his vacation living and working on a farm they had recently acquired. He dropped by again last year. “People wanted to feel that they were protecting the president,” Sherrod says. She forgave Jealous immediately. But, Jealous says, “that was the lowest moment of my professional career.”[12]

NAACP awards


NAACP President's Award winner Van Jones (C) poses for a portrait with current NAACP Chairman Benjamin Jealous and former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond during the 41st NAACP Image awards held at The Shrine Auditorium on February 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.

White House Initiative on Educational Excellence


The Rev. Al Sharpton, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, United Negro College Fund President Michael Lomax and several other African-American leaders visited the White House August 2012 to watch President Obama sign an executive order creating an initiative aimed at improving educational achievement.

Obama's signature launched the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, which "aims to ensure that all African American students can receive an education that fully prepares them for high school graduation, college completion and productive careers," a White House official said Wednesday before the president announced the initiative in his speech to the National Urban League.

Reps. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) and Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) were also in the group that attended the signing.[13]

Obama frustrations


During the Obama years, Jealous found a receptive audience and willing partner in the White House, and in particular at Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department. But he also found the Obama years frustrating. When rumors began circulating in 2016 that Jealous would endorse Bernie Sanders, Clinton confidante Neera Tanden told a colleague that “he’s really hung up on Obama not caring about black people.” (The email was later published by WikiLeaks).[14]

Sanders inner circle

Jealous endorsed Bernie Sanders in early February 2016 and almost immediately took a place in the senator’s inner circle, popping up at strategy meetings and introducing the candidate almost everywhere he went. “They come from different generations, they come from different backgrounds, [but] the two of them clicked very quickly,” says Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager and longtime consigliere. “The guy was all-in. He was an incredibly important player in the campaign.”

Jealous’ work for Sanders is one of the first things he mentions everywhere he goes these days, and his agenda reflects the leftward lurch in the Democratic Party since November 2016—Medicare for all, universal pre-K, free college, a $15 minimum wage, and an end to the war on drugs. Of the hundreds of Sanders-backed candidates seeking office, from Deep South mayoralties to big-city district attorneys, Jealous is the highest-profile, and his is the race where Sanders himself has the most skin in the game. Sanders endorsed Jealous last July, 11 months before the primary, and has made several visits to the state to campaign.[15]


Jealous is not a socialist—he’s a venture capitalist who believes in the power of markets to instigate social change. He had expected to spend his post-NAACP career teaching, or launching an Emily’s List-style incubator for candidates of color. Instead, he ended up as a partner at the Baltimore office of a firm called Kapor Capital. The VC arm of the organization, where Jealous works, invests in companies—usually firms founded by women or people of color—whose services target communities whose needs are not being met by Silicon Valley or anyone else. (It has a nonprofit sister organization, the Kapor Center, that funds philanthropic ventures directly.) “Every single problem that a rich person in San Francisco has, some startup is solving,” Jealous told a conference in 2014, not long after taking the job. He wanted to apply the startup world’s enthusiasm for solving first-world problems to actual first-world problems.

Jealous name-drops companies like LendUp—”which is disrupting the payday lending space”—and Honor, an Uberlike app that is “disrupting the middleman in the home health care industry.” His favorite of the bunch is a company called Pigeonly, which was founded by a former drug trafficker to slash the exorbitant cost of calling into prison (sometimes as much as $14 a minute) through a setup similar to Skype. At the NAACP, Jealous had pushed for regulations to curb the cost of prison phone calls by 50 percent, but Pigeonly, he points out, has already cut it by 80 percent.[16]

Board Member of Our Revolution

Benjamin Jealous is a board member for Our Revolution, an organization run by former campaign workers and supporters of former socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.[17]

Our Revolution Maryland


Our Revolution - Maryland's first statewide meeting. Sunday, April 23 2017 3:30 p.m. Tommy Douglas Conference Center 10000 New Hampshire Ave Silver Spring, MD 20903. A livestream with Nina Turner, Larry Cohen, Lucy Flores, Benjamin Jealous and DSA member Mike Connolly.[18]

Our Revolution support


“This election cycle, Our Revolution - Maryland’s 8,000 members endorsed 160 deeply progressive, passionate citizens running for every office in the state on the issues that matter to working families,” said Bob Muehlenkamp, Chair of Our Revolution - Maryland. “For months, they have worked day and night talking to their neighbors about the importance of embracing progressive policies and changing the political landscape in Maryland. We knew we’d be successful on primary night, and Ben Jealous’ primary win provided confirmation that we are on the right path.”[19]

National Nurses United endorsement

National Nurses United 2018 endorsements included Benjamin Jealous for Governor.

Sanders fan

In 2016, Jealous was Bernie Sanders’ most prominent African-American supporter on the national stage, serving as a delegate and working for the campaign. Jealous has been endorsed by Sanders and Our Revolution, the political organization that sprung from Sanders’ campaign, as well as Sanders’ key labor backers—the Communications Workers of America and National Nurses United.[20]

Van Jones

“We’re in this kind of post-Obama desert,” says the commentator Van Jones, an early backer, “and if you listen to Ben Jealous, he’s the closest thing to an oasis that I’ve heard or seen.”

Van Jones, who has known Jealous since they worked in college with the AIDS activist group ACT UP to protest President Bill Clinton’s ban of Haitian refugees, compares the campaign in Maryland to Deval Patrick’s 2006 gubernatorial run in Massachusetts. “Every single theme that he hit wound up being almost a carbon copy for the Obama campaign in 2008,” Jones says. “You could have another Deval Patrick effect, where in the middle of the Bush horror, somebody kind of figured out a pathway and pattern.”[21]

Van Jones "We Rise" tour


National Leading From the Inside Out Alum

Benjamin Jealous, Executive Director, NAACP, was a 2010 Rockwood Leadership Institute National Leading From the Inside Out Alum.[22]

Vote Hope

In 2007 and 2008 Andy Wong worked with Steven Phillips and Benjamin Jealous to implement an 18 state initiative under Vote Hope that increased communities of color participation in state primaries and the federal general election in 2008.[23]

Flipping Florida

In 2012, the NAACP, under the direction of then-President Benjamin Jealous and Senior Vice President Marvin Randolph, registered 375,618 voters, mostly African American, across the country. They registered 100,000 in Florida alone, in a year when Obama won the state by 74,000 votes. [24]

Damu Smith Training Institute

Makani Themba November 16, 2012:


The Damu Smith Training Institute fellows were treated to an intimate conversation with some of our leading Lights: Melanie Campbell, Elsie Scott, Hillary Shelton, Benjamin Jealous and our skillful moderator, Walter Fields.

Big ups also to my soul's sister Sandra Rattley for her mad MC skills in the closing ceremony that included Damu's cousin Edward SmithLink title and the one and only Miz Asha :-). We were extra blessed by having Pat Walters, hero-ancestor Ron Walters' partner in life and work in the audience. Congrats to all of the Fellows! Asante sana to all of the faculty who gave of their time and talent. I think we did Brother Damu proud.



Originally called PAC+, PowerPAC+ is a political action committee formed in 2012 to build the political power of America’s multiracial majority. It emerged from the groundbreaking work of Vote Hope in 2007-08. At that time, then-Senator Barack Obama was assembling his Presidential campaign and California’s primary moved from June to a more influential month, February. "We created Vote Hope, the first super-PAC aimed at supporting Barack Obama’s bid for president. Vote Hope was the largest independent effort in the nation to increase voter turnout in communities of color. It drew in $10 million, and expanded to 18 states during the primary season".

After President Obama’s election, "we set up a DC office and worked closely with the administration’s personnel staff" to build a Diversity Talent Bank that the White House used to identify and hire more than 60 people including Associate Attorney General Tony West. During that same period, many in our network became leaders in non-profits, philanthropy, and government such as Vote Hope fundraiser and former board member Benjamin Jealous who became NAACP president".

In 2009, "we convened" the leadership of the largest civil rights groups in the country and helped execute a media campaign targeting senators who were wavering on the health care reform bill. That effort led to the creation of a coalition of labor, civil rights, and progressive groups who conducted the One Nation Working Together 10/2/10 March on Washington.

Since then, PowerPAC+ has consulted with the leadership of the Democratic Party, organizations and campaigns about how to best build support in the communities of color.[25] election strategy

Jelloneeggt.JPG is committed to supporting the civic engagement of voters of color and the election of progressive leaders of color. Much of our strategy is outlined in the book “Brown Is The New White,” written by our founder Steve Phillips. Our work involves researching where votes of color can make a difference in races, how demographic trends can affect change in public policy and leadership, and how civic engagement methodologies can change how campaigns are run.

Our work has spanned the nationwide (support for Barack Obama and civic engagement in 18 states in the 2007-2008 cycle) to the small (unseating 18-year conservative incumbents in city races in San Bernardino, CA). Most recently we worked with grassroots activists in Georgia to encourage African American voters to turn out in the CD-6 race in Georgia and to build support for Stacey Abrams’ race for Governor there. As we move forward, we will deepen our work in California as well as launching a multi-state initiative to support gubernatorial candidates of color in GA (Stacey Abrams), MD (Benjamin Jealous), AZ (David Garcia), CA (John Chiang), and FL (Andrew Gillum).

Additionally, we are in the process of building a fundraising engine to drive donations by average citizens in low dollar amounts. We think that there is power in crowd-sourcing the support of our communities of color. The voice of the growing economic power of the communities of color must be heard and their power felt.[26]

Collective PAC

Launched in August of 2016, the Collective PAC is backing several statewide races in 2018, including Stacey Abrams Governor of Georgia, Andrew Gillum Governor of Florida, Benjamin Jealous Governor of Maryland, Aaron Ford Attorney General of Nevada, Anita Earls North Carolina Supreme Court, Deidre DeJear Secretary of State Iowa, Kwame Raoul Illinois Attorney General, Mandela Barnes Wisconsin Lt. Governor, Rob Richardson, Ohio Treasurer .[27]

Democracy for America endorsement

Democracy for America has 68,405 members in the state of Michigan and more than one million members nationwide.

As a part of its work in the 2018 election cycle, Democracy for America intends to raise and spend more than $12 million in support of progressive candidates, make more than 2 million voter contacts, and support more than 250 candidates nationwide -- like Abdul El-Sayed -- in running inclusive populist campaigns committed to turning out the New American Majority of people of color and progressive white voters in November.
El-Sayed is the sixth gubernatorial endorsement DFA has made in the 2018 election cycle. Other gubernatorial endorsements the national grassroots progressive group has made this cycle includes Stacey Abrams in Georgia, David Garcia in Arizona, Andrew Gillum in Florida, Ben Jealous in Maryland, and Paulette Jordan in Idaho.[28]

CASA connection

June 2010, U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin (Md.) were among the special guests who helped cut the ribbon on CASA de Maryland's newly expanded and renovated multicultural center in Langly Park, Md. Through an investment partnership with Bank of America, Enterprise helped finance the green property with $7.9 million in New Markets Tax Credit allocation. [29]

CASA de Maryland, the state's largest immigrant advocate organization celebrated its 25th birthday by opening a new headquarters in the 21, 000 square foot McCormick-Goodhart mansion.

The facility will now be known as the CASA de Maryland MultiCultural Center. The renovation took almost three years and cost nearly $14 million dollars , "Some donations from the community were as small as a quarter and the largest was $2 million dollars" says CASA's Executive Director Gustavo Torres.

Over a thousand Langley Park residents attended the celebration as well as Maryalnd Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, US Congressman Chris Van Hollen and Steny Hoyer and the President of the NAACP Benjamin Jealous.[30]

CASA endorsement 2018


Sudan protest

March 16, 2012, Washington, DC: Today at the Sudanese Embassy, 2210 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, TransAfrica Forum President Nicole Lee joined actor and activist George Clooney who just returned from a trip to Sudan and NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, human rights advocate Martin Luther King III and Representative Al Green to demand immediate action to stop Sudan’s use of food as a weapon.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is blocking food and humanitarian aid from reaching half a million people in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile regions where they are at grave risk of starvation.

Hundreds of activists are demonstrating at the Sudanese Embassy this morning starting at 10am

Also at the protest were Tom Andrews, President, United to End Genocide, Nick Clooney, Journalist, Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail, Anglican Bishop of Kadugli, South Kordofan, Rabbi Steve Gutow, President, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Fred Kramer, Executive Director, Jewish World Watch, Congressman Jim McGovern, Congressman James Moran. [31]

Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) moderated a plenary panel at the Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference at Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi on Saturday, June 28, 2014. The panel, entitled “Our Southern Strategy: Where Do We Go from Here,” focused on the role that the South plays in changing the way that democracy applies to all citizens in the United States. The panel included fellow congressional members: G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Cedric Richmond (D-LA), and Bennie Thompson (D-MS). Tougaloo College was crucial to the Civil Rights Movement, a safe haven for many activists and a gathering place for the leaders of the Movement. The panel was part of the weeklong Freedom Summer 50th anniversary intergenerational conference. Danny Glover; Julian Bond; Dick Gregory; Sherrilyn Ifill, President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense and Educational Fund; and Benjamin Jealous, former President and CEO of the NAACP, were among the participants.[32]

Southern Elections Fund

The Southern Elections Fund was originally established in 1969 by Julian Bond to help elect local and state level candidates for office in the old Confederacy. In the early 1970’s, the SEF contributed campaign funds and technical advice to hundreds of candidates, many of whom were elected to office as part of a grassroots process that changed the nature and color of Southern politics.

In 2014, Bond and Benjamin Jealous resurrected the Southern Elections Fund in order to combat voter suppression and accelerate the electoral impact of the South’s rapidly changing demographics. The modern-day Southern Elections Fund will work in the South to expand the electorate, develop new leaders of color, and ensure that enhanced electoral power brings progressive change.[33]

Southern Elections Fund board

Southern Elections Fund, as of January 3, 2018;[34][35][36]


Peoples Summit


On the final day of the People’s Summit in Chicago June 11. 2017 the panel Electoral Politics: Beyond Neo-Liberalism and Trumpism brought together progressive elected officials and candidates to discuss how people can “seize power in this country,” as the moderator, The Nation editor, John Nichols, put it.

Benjamin Jealous addressed the audience by opening with a discussion of his personal history and it’s connection to the fight against racism.

“My father’s family has lived in the northern mountains of New Hampshire for generations,” while “my mom’s family is from Virginia,” he said. “Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of Loving versus Virginia, and they’re marriage 50 years ago was against the law.” Loving Day, celebrated on June 12 each year.

During the primary race, Jealous worked “to back the candidate who could beat Donald Trump,” introducing Sanders to audiences all over the country.

After introducing Sanders, Jealous said he listened to the cheers go up as the candidate said, “We will win the Fight for $15,” and “healthcare for all!” but as it got “to that place where Bernie would call for the police to stop killing unarmed Black men and women,” Jealous’ anxiety grew. “If it were any more tepid in the Ozarks” during the “dead sprint across this country trying to make sure Bernie won, I knew I would be a little off in a way you can’t afford to be.”

But when Bernie made the call “the cheers were just as loud in the Ozarks to stop the killing of unarmed civilians by the police as they were in Chicago, as they were in Detroit.”

“If you spend half an hour talking to folks about their needs and how you’re going to address them … when you ask them to be an ally to somebody else, they’re ready to do it,” Jealous told the audience. “You know, the Democratic Party is good at this thing called identity politics,” but “when it gets to working class white men we haven’t had much to say … since we brought Wall Street into our Party.”

“Unlikely voters are always the poorest voters in our cities, in our community,” Jealous noted, and the voters in west Baltimore were “waiting for the same conversation that the brothers in the Ozarks were waiting for. “How are we going to bring jobs back? How are we going to make things again? How are we going to make it possible for our kids to go to school?’ “

“We do that, and we will win,” Jealous said.

“You think you can do that in Maryland?” asked Nichols.

Jealous ran down the numbers. “Maryland – Bernie won 36 percent of the vote. This will be a three to eight way race. All I got to do is get to 40 percent, and we’ve won the primary.” In “a state that’s 2-1 Democrats to Republicans if we give folks a reason to turnout … there’s no way that in 2019, Maryland has a Republican governor.”

“This is not about me becoming governor. This is about making it possible for our families, and our movements – the women’s rights movement, the civil rights movement, the labor movement, the LGBT equality movement – all of our movements being able to govern.””[37]

Running for Maryland/rainbow repeat?

Best known as a surrogate for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, Mr. Jealous confirmed in June that he is running for governor of Maryland. He cited his long record of civil rights activism and the diversity of the state of Maryland as being in his favor.

“When I was president of the NAACP, I learned just how quickly my neighbors here were prepared to move forward on civil rights. In one year, we abolished the death penalty, we passed marriage equality, we passed the Dream Act.

“I’m running for governor because I believe we’re prepared to move just as quickly in moving forward on education, on employment, on the environment while continuing to protect civil rights,” Mr. Jealous said in an interview with the Trice Edney News Wire. “I’m running for governor because I believe we can do much better by our kids right now.”

Mr. Jealous, 44, is entering a crowded field of seven other candidates poised to run in a Democratic primary to be held June 26, 2018. He believes disaffection for the scandal-laden Trump administration may cause Maryland voters to lean toward Democratic leadership after electing Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in November 2014. Gov. Hogan is eligible to run for re-election.

“In this era of President Trump, they can only remember having a president that is competent to serve. And now they see the impact of having a president that is quite the opposite,” Mr. Jealous said. “So long as we turn out Democratic voters who are used to voting in gubernatorial elections, there’s almost no way that he can win.”

The key will be to excite the Democratic base to increase turnout at the polls. Mr. Jealous believes he has the record to do just that. Maryland has a 45 percent white voting age population, 45 percent African-American voting age population and 10 percent other races. Mr. Jealous believes his background and civil rights record could attract a following similar to the Rainbow Coalition that was amassed during the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign, for which Mr. Jealous also worked in 1988.

“The combination of an activist rooted in the tradition of the NAACP and the Civil Rights Movement, and an activist rooted in the Bernie (Sanders) camp, gives us a broad base that looks like Maryland similar to what you saw of Doug Wilder in Virginia after the Jesse Jackson campaign,” Mr. Jealous said.[38]

“We’re modeling our campaign after Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition—and also on Obama’s 2008 campaign,” Jealous says. His coalition reflects that aspiration. CASA de Maryland, a champion for the Latino community, is a backer. He earned a nod from SEIU, which has a strong base among black voters in Maryland. Progressive Maryland and the Maryland Working Families Party, which represent the left flank of the state’s Democratic Party, are behind him. And climate change activist Bill McKibben and LGBTQ organizer Rea Carey are in Jealous’ camp.

He says his coalition departs from traditional Democratic politics in its strong commitment to attacking poverty as the root cause of problems facing working people. He links gun violence in the streets of Baltimore and the opioid crisis in rural Maryland to crushed hopes for a better economic future. “Young people who are full of hope don’t kill each other, and they don’t kill themselves,” he says. Restoring hope, he says, means “opening opportunity for everyone.”

SEIU 1199 spokesperson Girume Ashenafi says his union’s endorsement was “a no brainer. He’s the most progressive candidate in the field, no question about it.”[39]

Reaching out to Clinton supporters

In November 2017 Jealous announced as his running mate Susie Turnbull, a long-time state party leader associated with the pro-Clinton wing. Prominent Clinton supporters Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti came out early for Jealous.[40]

Campaign staff

Benjamin Jealous hires Sanders consultants: Jealous has hired a slew of consultants with ties to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid for his campaign, including campaign manager Travis Tazelaar, a former executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party who was on Sanders’ steering committee in the state, along with media consultants Devine Mulvey Longabaugh and digital consultants Revolution Messaging. Not everyone was involved on Team Sanders, though. Hilltop SolutionsBill Hyers and Rebecca Katz will serve as general consultant and communications consultant. Fred Yang of Garin-Hart-Yang will handle polling, and Addisu Demissie of 50+1 Strategies will serve as a fundraising consultant. Kevin Harris, who was a senior adviser to the Hillary Clintonn campaign and previously worked for Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, will be communications director. Erica Bernstein, who also worked for the Clinton campaign, will be the finance director.[41]


Endorsements—include Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), the Service Employees International Union, and a group of black pastors.[42]

Radical staffer

In 2017 Lisa Gerlach was Director of Scheduling and Advance at Ben Jealous for Governor.

Maryland Working Families

Jay Hutchins is acting executive of another group that backed Jealous — Maryland Working Families — and coordinated an independent expenditure campaign that spent nearly $500,000 to help Jealous win.[43]

Progressive Maryland support


The Washington Socialist July 2018, by Progressive Maryland Executive Director Larry Stafford, Jr.

[Tuesday] night, a Progressive earthquake shook Maryland’s establishment politics to their core. Ben Jealous’s primary victory puts Maryland within striking distance of the progressive governor we deserve and need. His victory marks the ascendance of a movement that’s grounded in progressive values, led by women and people of color, to shape a new direction for politics that breathes new life into the electoral system, in our state and beyond.
At Progressive Maryland, we’ve been on board with Ben from the start – and he with us. Back in December, he let us know where he stands on key issues: the $15 minimum wage, workers’ right to organize, women’s rights and Medicare for All. As with all of our candidates, before we knocked on a single door, we shared his public commitment to us on these issues with you. And as we celebrate his victory, it’s worth remembering what he told us then:
I’ve been a civil rights leader my whole life and it has been a lifetime of bringing together diverse coalitions across the lines that are supposed to divide us like race, class, religion and so on. Talking to Marylanders from the place that they are coming from, whether they are a white police officer dealing with violent crime in Baltimore City or a black working mother from Montgomery County, you have to first recognize and acknowledge their struggle and it is only from that place that understanding and change can happen.
This is what sets Ben apart, and makes him a true leader. Like Progressive Maryland, he hears the voices of ordinary Marylanders, the only way you can: by knocking on doors and listening to the struggles, hopes and dreams all across our state. He then puts this experience into practice on issues that really resonate with people.

Ben’s primary victory represents a shift in the balance of power in Maryland politics and within the Democratic Party away from the old, corporate consensus that the only kind of change that’s possible is incremental. He is bold, and so are we.

It’s proof that Progressives are now organized enough, and strong enough, to win statewide elections. People in the state have often speculated that Maryland was more a moderate state, a more establishment Democrat-driven state. Ben’s win totally proves that theory wrong.
It also shows that the path forward for progressive values and working people’s values is through organizing and creating meaningful alliances between populist progressive, white constituency groups and progressive people of color, who want to vote for people who knows the issues of our communities and who will put forward bold solutions that meet the needs of our constituency.
Ben represents the success of this kind of coalition, and how it can beat establishment politics. And it also represents to me, as an African-American man, that we are strong enough to win in Maryland, and in the nation.

Maryland’s Democratic electorate has long been significantly been driven by Black voters. The fact that Maryland’s Democratic contender for governor is now African-American is powerful. But even more powerful is that Ben’s campaign is not just based on racial identity. It’s based on the real values he puts forward, the types of ideas that he has, and the vision that he’s putting forward for our state. These are the values and vision that Maryland needs now.

We’re clearly witnessing a changing of the guard, especially in the Maryland General Assembly, where the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Senate Finance Chair, Senate Pro-Tem and Senate Health and chair of the Environmental Affairs Committee were all unseated by progressive challengers.

Regressive incumbents like these have held back progress in Maryland on the minimum wage, sick leave, criminal justice reform and other policies that matter most to ordinary people, so these victories open the door to real change in our state.
Ben now stands poised to lead this progressive wave. We’re proud of him, and proud of all the progressives who made strong showings across our state – such as Cory McCray, Mary Washington and Antonio Hayes in the State Senate, Mark Elrich and Brandy Brooks in Montgomery County, and Krystal Oriadha and Juwan Blocker in Prince George’s County. At Progressive Maryland, supporting candidates like these demonstrates our commitment to doing politics in a different way – now, in November and beyond.
Ben has a bold vision, one that’s right for Maryland. Onwards to victory, Ben. You demonstrate when you really tap into our state’s progressive electorate, you can win with progressive ideas: go bold.

Barber connection

Randy Barber with Benjamin Jealous, March 5, 2018

Democracy for America

Benjamin Jealous, Maryland Governor, was endorsed by Democracy for America in 2018.

Wallop Hogan

Jealous’s bet is that by running as an unabashed progressive, he can generate enough enthusiasm from the Democratic base to overcome first his Democratic opponents and then the Republican incumbent.

“We turn out the unlikely voters, we will wallop Hogan,” Jealous told me in an interview. “I’m in this to wallop Hogan.”

If Jealous wins, his administration will be the first experiment in merging the Democratic Party’s warring impulses—socially conscious capitalism and social democracy. While Hogan’s approval numbers are high now, his 2014 election, when Hogan defeated then-Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown by 66,000 votes, was a close race.

“The 2014 election was the lowest turnout in the history of party politics in Maryland back to 1867, the lowest turnout of Democratic voters in the history of the state,” Willis, the former Maryland secretary of state, said. “It’s not going to be the lowest again. You’re going to have a different electorate. Hogan could get every single vote he got in 2014 and still lose by 100,000 votes.”[44]

Big money donors

Six wealthy liberals, all but one from California, have contributed $600,000 to two of four political action committees supporting Benjamin Jealous in the Maryland Democratic gubernatorial primary.

The individuals’ contributions, together with nearly $900,000 from labor unions, have given the Jealous campaign a significant financial edge over most of his five main rivals, and especially over his principal opponent, Rushern L. Baker III.

The four PACs, which are barred by law from coordinating with the Jealous campaign, are using the money for television and radio advertising, mailers, canvassing and other get-out-the-vote efforts.

PACs affiliated with Working Families Party, Progressive Maryland and Our Revolution - Maryland say they are spending about $500,000 to boost Jealous.

The fourth entity is a super PAC called Maryland Together We Rise, which is spending more than $1 million. It is getting money from labor groups and five of the wealthy individuals; the sixth person contributed to Progressive Maryland.

The amount of PAC spending on Jealous’s behalf is “highly unique” in a Maryland governor’s race, said Keith Haller, a pollster and independent political analyst.

The funding drew strong criticism from one of Jealous’s primary opponents, state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno, Jr. (Montgomery), who asked, “Who is Ben Jealous going to be held accountable to? Maryland voters or his billionaire bosses?”

But a Jealous spokesman said the contributions showed Jealous would be better able to compete in the fall with Hogan, who has about $9.4 million in his campaign coffers, more than all six Democrats combined.

“The Democratic nominee will start out at a financial disadvantage to Hogan, so having a candidate with the ability and appeal to reach donors large and small in Maryland and nationally is an asset, one that Baker clearly doesn’t have,” Jealous spokesman Kevin Harris said.

As in past elections, both Hogan and the Democratic nominee are expected to benefit from support from their parties’ national governors associations.

Jealous also has more money from his own fundraising than Baker — just under $400,000 on hand, compared to $170,000 for Baker — according to the most recent fundraising reports, released June 15. A June 5 Washington Post-University of Maryland poll showed the two are the front-runners, well ahead of the rest of the field, but with a large number of voters undecided.

Under state law, no individual can contribute more than $6,000 directly to a candidate, but contributions to PACs are unlimited.

Most of the big individual contributors to Maryland Together We Rise are well-known donors from Northern California who have given to many other Democratic campaigns.

One is Alexandra Clancy, the fashion designer and widow of spy-thriller author Tom Clancy.

Clancy, who lives in New York and contributed $50,000, declined to comment.

The largest single donor, with contributions totaling $250,000, was Susan Sandler. She and her husband, Steve Phillips, founded the Sandler Phillips Center, which advises donors to progressive politicians on how to maximize the impact of their contributions.

She also has been a major contributor to PACs backing Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) — both of whom have endorsed and campaigned with Jealous.

A PAC disclosure initially reporting that a $100,000 contribution came from Phillips was later amended to say that it came from Sandler.

Sandler contributed to the pro-Jealous PAC because Jealous “has been a national social justice leader and anti-poverty crusader for decades,” said Emi Gusukuma, the center’s executive vice president.

Gusukuma said Sandler also liked Jealous’s work advocating in Maryland and elsewhere on behalf of “the Dream Act, marriage equality and ending the death penalty,” as well as increasing voter participation among racial minorities.

Another donor, Mitch Kapor, is managing partner of the venture capital firm Kapor Capital, where Jealous is also a partner.

Kapor, founder of the Lotus computer software company, said it’s rare for him to give money to a PAC because, in general, “Politics is broken and the funding is broken.” He made an exception in this case, donating $50,000 to the pro-Jealous PAC, because of his personal familiarity with Jealous and because Phillips, a friend, asked him to do so.

The other two big donors to Maryland Together We Rise are Quinn Delaney, founder of the Akonadi Foundation, which she and her husband launched “as an outgrowth of their commitment to racial justice”; and Mark Heising, who has given more than $500,000 since 2008 to mostly Democratic candidates and PACs.

Heising’s daughter, Caitlin Heising, contributed $50,000 to the Progressive Maryland PAC.

When asked about the outside money, Madeleine Russak, a spokeswoman for the Baker campaign, did not mention the individual contributions to the PACs.

But she faulted Maryland Together We Rise, which also gets money from unions, for sending mailers and Facebook videos that attacked Baker’s record on education during his two terms as Prince George’s County executive.

“Labor’s involvement in campaigns isn’t unusual,” Russak said. “However, spending their members’ money to demonize Mr. Baker . . . is more typical of [Republican strategists] Karl Rove and [the late] Lee Atwater than fulfilling a responsibility to make sure voters have the information needed to honestly make the best decision on Election Day.”

Harris disputed the criticism, saying, “It’s not negative campaigning if it’s true.”[45]

"Venture capitalist"

After leaving the NAACP, Jealous became a partner at Kapor Capital, an investment firm that provides funding for tech startups that serve low-income and minority communities. Its portfolio includes companies like Pigeonly, which makes an app that helps families with loved ones in prison avoid the outrageously high cost of phone calls, and LendUp, which gives people a way to borrow money without relying on predatory lenders.

“He’s an incredibly quick study,” said Mitch Kapor, the firm’s founder. “He has the leadership experience, he had the organizational experience, he knows the issues. What he hadn’t done previously is invest in for-profit startups.” His role as an investor for Kapor has also provided Jealous with one of his favorite lines, that Republicans will “call me a socialist, but I’m a venture capitalist.”[46]

The day after Benjamin Jealous won Maryland’s Democratic nomination for governor, he appeared on a left-leaning MSNBC talk show and was asked the question roiling establishment Democrats.

Was he so liberal that he will help a Republican win? Break apart the Democratic Party?

Jealous largely dodged the premise of the question.

“Go ahead, call me a socialist,” Jealous answered, bringing up his latest job and most potent political antidote to the charge. “That doesn’t change the fact I’m a venture capitalist.”[47]

Kapor Capital team


Kapor Capital team, July 2018;[48]

Sanders Institute Fellows

The Sanders Institute Fellowship is comprised of leaders dedicated to transforming our democracy through the research, education, outreach and advancement of bold, progressive ideas and values.

Dr. Jane O'Meara Sanders, Prof. Robert Reich, The Honorable Nina Turner, Harry Belafonte, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Dr. Cornel West, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Bill McKibben, Danny Glover, Benjamin Jealous Dr. Stephanie Kelton, Michael Lighty, Shaun King.[49]

"Progressive backers"

Progressive unions, groups and allies are taking on Democratic Party regulars in the June 26 Maryland Democratic gubernatorial primary. But whoever wins faces an unenviable task, even in the deep-blue state: Trying to dislodge popular GOP Gov. Larry Hogan in November.

On the progressive side, National Nurses United, the Amalgamated Transit Union, Unite Here Local 7, the Postal Workers, Our Revolution Maryland, the Working Families Party, Progressive Maryland and Trans United Fund launched a joint campaign of people and money to promote one of the two leading hopefuls, former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous.

The eight groups “represent a cross-section of Maryland’s Democratic primary electorate which is heavily comprised of black voters, union members, and progressive white voters,” their statement said.

The Maryland State Education Association also endorsed Jealous. The state AFL-CIO is neutral and both the Maryland and Baltimore Teachers’ union affiliates are silent.

On the party regulars’ side, former Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley became the latest regular backer of the other leader, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker. O’Malley joined former Gov. Parris Glendening, state Attorney General Brian Frosh and U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer in backing Baker.

The Maryland race is a tossup. Despite their high-profile prior positions, the latest poll shows approximately 40 percent of Maryland Democrats are undecided, while 21 percent back Baker, 16 percent back Jealous, and other hopefuls trail behind.

Besides the unions and Our RevolutionBernie Sanders and Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., back Jealous. Jealous, Booker and Baker are African-American, as are thousands of Maryland Democratic primary voters.

One wildcard: A third leader, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, a “moderate,” died of a heart attack on May 10. His running mate, former state Working Families Party chief Valerie Ervin, a more-progressive hopeful, took his spot. But the state didn’t order new ballots printed and it’s unclear whether Ervin can also take over Kamenentz’s campaign warchest, the largest among the hopefuls.

Jealous is running on an openly progressive platform, including Medicare for All. “Health care is a moral and economic imperative we can no longer ignore,” he says. He promises to try to implement such a system “regardless of what President Trump does in Washington. Medicare for all, Jealous adds, “will provide better care at less cost.”

He also pledges to raise the state minimum wage to $15 hourly, and implement wide-ranging criminal justice reforms, including establishing personality testing for potential police officers to weed out those with bias or violent tendencies.

Besides spending $500,000 for ads in the last weeks of the race, the groups put six full-time organizers on the ground, recruited hundreds of volunteers for face-to-face conversations, along with emails, phone banking, digital advertising and texting. The coalition plans to target 250,000 households.

“I see the effects of our broken health care system every day. I’m for Jealous because he’ll fight for a single payer health care system that will work for everyone,” said Renelsa Caudill, RN, a National Nurses United leader in majority-African-American Prince George’s County. The county is one of the four big jurisdictions the coalition is campaigning in, along with Montgomery County – the largest in the state – Baltimore City and Baltimore County.

“I’m proud that my union, Unite Here Local 7, endorsed Jealous for governor. Ben stands for better wages, universal health care, and ending mass incarceration,” said union member George Hancock, a Baltimore city resident who works at the city’s baseball stadium, Camden Yards. “His policies will bring the change that is needed and make for a better Baltimore.”[50]

Sunrise slate 2018

Sunrise Movement August 2 2018:

We're thrilled to introduce you to our first-ever round of candidate endorsements: the #SunriseSlate2018!


These candidates are some of the earliest adopters of the #NoFossilFuelMoney pledge and, if elected, would lead the fight against oil and gas lobbyists in state capitols and Washington, DC. They’re putting forward big policy solutions to the climate crisis, like championing a Green New Deal and supporting a just and rapid transition to a 100% renewable energy future that leaves no community behind.

Learn more and support our efforts here! — with Katie Muth for PA Senate, Deb Haaland for Congress, Alessandra Biaggi, Kaniela Ing, Jess King for Congress, Julia Salazar for State Senate, Dana Hamp Gulick for PA 97th, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Representative Anna Eskamani, Abdul El-Sayed, Danielle Friel Otten for PA District 155, Cynthia Nixon for New York, Benjamin Jealous, Jumaane D. Williams, Ilhan Omar for Congress, Randy Bryce, Zellnor Myrie for New York and Rashida Tlaib For Congress, Penelope Tsernoglou Michigan State House, Michele Wherley Pennsylvania State House. .

Radical supporters

Gabriel Strachota November 4 2018:


CVH Power here with our friends Progressive Maryland in Prince Georges County hitting the doors to #MakeHoganJealous — with Giancarlo Alicea Fernandez, Rosaurita Marcano and Krystal Oriadha.

"Night of progressive vision"


Nomiki Konst is with Josh Fox. December 1 2018 at 11:08 AM:

A wonderful night of progressive vision for the planet with John Cusack, Rose Ann DeMoro, Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Yanis Varoufakis, Ben Jealous and Josh Fox. I could not imagine a better team or allies in this movement. And of course, friends and supporters

Justice Democrats

Benjamin Jealous MD GV was endorsed by Justice Democrats for 2018.


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  38. Free Press, Ben Jealous to run for gov. in Md. 6/2/2017
  39. ITT APRIL 2, 2018 Bernie’s Platform Could Win in Maryland’s Gov. Race, With Support From Clinton Voters BY BRUCE VAIL
  40. ITT APRIL 2, 2018 Bernie’s Platform Could Win in Maryland’s Gov. Race, With Support From Clinton Voters BY BRUCE VAIL
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  42. Mother Jones The Most Important Election of 2018 Might Be Happening in Maryland TEXT BY TIM MURPHY; PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREW MANGUMJANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 ISSUE
  43. [ Baltimore Sun Will Ben Jealous pull Maryland Democrats together or apart?Erin Cox and Luke BroadwaterContact Reporters The Baltimore Sun July 1 2018]
  44. [ AtlanticIs Ben Jealous What Progressives Want? ADAM SERWER JUN 25, 2018 ]
  45. [ WaPOWho’s giving big bucks to boost Ben Jealous? Rich California liberals and unions, mostly.By Robert McCartney June 23 2018]
  46. [ AtlanticIs Ben Jealous What Progressives Want? ADAM SERWER JUN 25, 2018 ]
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  50. Progressives take on regular Democrats in Maryland primaries June 12, 2018 1:14 PM CDT BY MARK GRUENBERG