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Peoria, Illinois – Public Employees for Community Concerns has announced the selection of Benjamin Jealous as the featured speaker for the January 18, 2016 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Luncheon. The luncheon will be held at Noon, at the Peoria Civic Center. Tickets are $40 per person and tables of 10 are $400, and can be purchased by calling Alma Brown at
(309) 453-4070 or by mailing checks to P.O. Box 1312, Peoria, IL 61654-1312. Checks should be made payable to Public Employees for Community Concerns. Ticket information can also be found on the PECC website at .

Benjamin Jealous photo-480Ben Jealous is the former national president of the NAACP, a civil rights icon and a champion for judicial reform. Jealous, the youngest president in NAACP history led successful efforts to outlaw racial profiling, ban the death penalty and defend voting rights.

Jealous recently joined the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kapor Capital, where he plans to continue his goal of growing opportunities for minorities in the tech economy. Jealous was a Rhodes Scholar, and was named by both Forbes and TIME magazine to their “Top 40 under 40” lists, and was named the Young Global Leader by World Economic Forum. Jealous’ new book Reach: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading, and Succeeding features personal essays from prominent figures in the black community.

The youngest president in its history, he began his career at age 18 opening mail at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Jealous has been a leader of successful state and local movements to ban the death penalty, outlaw racial profiling, defend voting rights, secure marriage equality, and end mass incarceration. Under his leadership, the NAACP grew to be the largest civil rights organization online and on mobile, and became the largest community-based nonpartisan voter registration operation in the country. Jealous’ leadership at the NAACP included bringing environmentalist organizations into the fight to protect voting rights, and convincing well-known conservatives to join the NAACP.

Prior to leading the NAACP, he spent 15 years as a journalist and community organizer. While at Mississippi’s Jackson Advocate newspaper, his investigations were credited with exposing corruption at a state penitentiary and proving the innocence of a black farmer framed for arson. While at Amnesty International, he led successful efforts to outlaw prison rape, expose the increasing trend of children being sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, and draw attention to expanded racial profiling in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.