Dreaming All the Way to the White House
Question: Were you surprised to see an African-American elected president in 2008?
Ben Jealous: No. I’m a fifth generation member of the NAACP, and we train our kids to dream really big and impossible dreams. It has always been the formula for the NAACP. When it was founded and when my grandmother's grandfather first joined, the man had been born a slave. The big dream then was to shame the country out of the practice of lynch mob justice.
And so for us to say from an apartment in New York City where our first group met that we were going to do that was crazy. And yet we did it. It took us 50 or 60 years, but we did it.
So, that's our tradition. Our tradition is to train our kids to dream big dreams and to pursue them doggedly. And about half a century earlier, our membership really started talking in earnest about breaking the color barrier on the White House, about setting it up and fought battle after battle after battle, and that's the context in which I was raised in, in the human rights movement and brought into the NAACP as a teenager, was that we were on a mission to maximize black voter participation and to maximize the opportunities for black people to run for and win office, Mayor, Governor, and so forth.
My grandfather, a couple of generations back, you know if you will, the third generation member of the association was more circumspect. He wasn't able to dream that big. I talked to my grandfather about it and I told him that some friends of mine, before I rose to my current position, I was running a foundation in California. So, some friends of mine and I put in our plan to help move the black vote into early primary states. And we raised several million dollars to do that. I said, I think we have a winner this time, Granddad, I think we're going to go all the way. And he said, "In my 90 years of being a black man on this planet can be of any value to you, don't get your hopes up because it ain't gonna happen." I said, "Really Granddad, you don't think there’s any possibility?" "Well, son," he said, "It'll be a cold day before that happens." Well, less than three years later, I was sitting 15 rows behind the about to become President Obama on Inauguration Day. I kept looking up because it was like the coldest day I could remember in Washington D.C. And I said, "Granddad, you were exactly right. It is a cold day, and Barrack Hussein Obama is President." It was a good day. It was a good day.
Recorded March 10th, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen
Obama’s election surprised the NAACP president's grandfather—but not Jealous, who saw it as another "big and impossible dream" that black Americans would prove possible.
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
The Canadian professor has an extensive collection posted on his site.
- Peterson's Great Books list features classics by Orwell, Jung, Huxley, and Dostoevsky.
- Categories include literature, neuroscience, religion, and systems analysis.
- Having recently left Patreon for "freedom of speech" reasons, Peterson is taking direct donations through Paypal (and Bitcoin).
Cosmologists propose a groundbreaking model of the universe using string theory.
- A new paper uses string theory to propose a new model of the universe.
- The researchers think our universe may be riding a bubble expanded by dark energy.
- All matter in the universe may exist in strings that reach into another dimension.
Despite incredible economic growth, it is not necessarily an investor's paradise.
- China's stock market is just 27 years old. It's economy has grown 30x over that time.
- Imagine if you had invested early and gotten in on the ground floor.
- Actually, you would have lost money. Here's how that's possible.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.