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Outgoing NAACP President Ben Jealous Credited With Boosting Group

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(Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)

(Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)

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Rochelle Ritchie joined WJZ Eyewitness News in June 2012. Prio...
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WASHINGTON (WJZ) — A surprise announcement from the president of the NAACP. After just five years, Ben Jealous, who has spear-headed a number of civil rights issues, says he will step down to spend more time with his family.

Rochelle Ritchie has more on Jealous’ resignation and reaction from local chapters.

Ben Jealous has been credited with getting the NAACP back on track after a number of issues within the organization. He says he feels he’s done that and it’s time to leave.

At just 35 years old, Jealous–a new father and newlywed–took over as president for the NAACP in 2008 amidst a number of challenges. Now, five years later, he is turning in his duties as president to pursue more family time.

“My chair asked me when I called her. She said, `Is there someone luring you away?’ and I said `Yes, his name is Jack and her name is Morgan,’” Jealous said.

Jack and Morgan are Jealous’ two children who, he says, are the perfect reason to give up his seat as president. He said he made a promise to his daughter to do five years and he is committed to that promise.

“And there was no excuse not to keep that promise to my daughter and spend more time with both of them,” Jealous said.

The president of the Baltimore City NAACP says the challenges on the local level are quite significant, so she can only imagine the obstacles Jealous faced every day.

“We have over 2,000 branches so you’re involved with the issues that come up in each state and in each state, you have 10, 15, 30 branches,” said Tessa Alston.

A successor has not been named for Jealous, but in its 104-year history, Alston says it would be nice to see a woman take over.

“As a female leader in Baltimore, I think that was a good statement for him to make that a female should be eligible for that position,” Alston said.

Jealous’ time as president of the NAACP saw some significant moments, such as the passing of the Dream Act and repealing the death penalty. He says he is confident of the leadership to come.

“I also wouldn’t be leaving if the NAACP wasn’t rising to challenges of today,” he said.

Jealous says he plans to pursue a teaching career. His resignation is effective Dec. 31.

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