Ex-President of NAACP commemorates Martin Luther King Jr.

Alexandra B. Desravines

Editor, Lake Worth Campus


“We’re here celebrating Martin Luther King, who didn’t die because he wanted to fight the good fight; he died because he was willing to believe we could win the good fight, “said Benjamin Jealous.

Benjamin Jealous, revered former CEO of the NAACP, gave a keynote speech in veneration of Martin Luther King Jr. at the 15th Annual Celebration Breakfast on the Lake Worth campus on Jan. 15. A continental breakfast in MLK Plaza preceded the ceremony in the Duncan Theatre, which began with a moment of silence to honor of the life Nelson Mandela.

The former NAACP president spoke of John Rosamond Johnson, former NAACP member and composer of “Lift Every Voice and Sing”.  Johnson, Jealous explained, did not set out to write a Negro National Anthem, but rather “was writing a song to encourage us in the struggle to make our nation one.”

Jealous advised and encouraged attendees considering a career in public service that “it is not worth fighting any fight unless we are willing to win that fight.”  He addressed the ongoing segregation in America, and discussed the issues of the nation’s economy, poverty, incarceration, and education, reminding the audience “we are not too old to change the world.”

“As an institution of higher education, Palm Beach State College is a significant source of hope and support and transformation. Here we subscribe to a philosophy: ‘believe in order to become.’ In the words of Dr. King, it is making a dream come true. You have to believe in something, and our message to the people in the communities we serve is believe in yourself. You don’t know what you can do without trying,” said Dr. Irving Berkowitz, Dean of Academic Affairs at the Lake Worth campus.

Other speakers of the event included Maria M. Vallejo, Provost of the Lake Worth campus; Dr. Barry Moore, Dean of Academic Affairs and Student Services at Belle Glade; Carolyn L. Williams, District Board of Trustees Chairperson; Keneisha Dale, District Board of Trustees’ Student Trustee; and President of Palm Beach State College Dr. Dennis P. Gallon. MLK Leadership Awards were presented to Nepthalie Jean, Estella Pyfrom, George G. Gentile and the PEACE organization for outstanding work and dedication in the community.

February marks Black History Month, twenty-eight days devoted to the homage of leaders and individuals that have fought, lost and won many battles in hope of a better future, and to the remembrance of lives of men and women of color.

Jealous, who left the NAACP at the end of 2013, to spend time with his family, told Beachcomber he intends to run for office in 10 years.