Cornell William Brooks is a professor of the Practice of Public Leadership and Social Justice at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he is also director of the William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice at the school’s Center for Public Leadership. He is a civil rights attorney, a visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School, and a fourth-generation ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
As president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People from 2014 to 2017, he led the NAACP in securing 12 significant legal victories, including groundwork for the first statewide legal challenge to prison-based gerrymandering. Prior to this he was president of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, acting director of the FCC’s Office of Communications Business Opportunities, executive director of the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington, a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, and a judicial clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Brooks holds a bachelor’s degree from Jackson State University, a Master of Divinity degree from Boston University’s School of Theology, and a JD degree from Yale Law School, where he was a senior editor of the Yale Law Journal and member of the Yale Law and Policy Review. He is the recipient of several honorary degrees, including ones from Boston University, Drexel, Saint Peter’s, and Payne Theological Seminary.