HDS Appoints Cornell Brooks, Former NAACP Head, Visiting Professor

August 26, 2019
Cornell William Brooks
Cornell William Brooks, Visiting Professor of the Practice of Prophetic Religion and Public Leadership at HDS / Photo: Tom Fitzsimmons.

Cornell William Brooks, former president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, will serve as Visiting Professor of the Practice of Prophetic Religion and Public Leadership at Harvard Divinity School for the 2019-20 academic year.

Brooks, a civil rights attorney, ordained minister, and Harvard Kennedy School professor, was most recently a visiting scholar at HDS during the 2018-19 academic year.

“I’m delighted that Cornell William Brooks will continue his affiliation with HDS—in collaboration with Harvard Kennedy School—in his new role as Visiting Professor of the Practice of Prophetic Religion and Public Leadership,” says Dean David Hempton. “In addition to teaching and advising, Cornell’s vital contributions to the University over the past year were exemplified through his engagement with the community in lectures and discussions around important topics both at the Kennedy School and at the Center for the Study of World Religions. His valued work and insights on issues of civil rights, social justice, and communities of faith will continue in the year ahead to afford students and the wider community a tremendous learning opportunity. Please join me in congratulating Cornell on his new role.”

Brooks holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, and a master of divinity degree from Boston University’s School of Theology, where he was a Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar. He is a fourth-generation ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Prior to leading the NAACP, Brooks was president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

At Harvard Kennedy School, Brooks is Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership and Social Justice, and is also director of The William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice at HKS’s Center for Public Leadership. His courses this academic year include “Creating Justice in Real Time: Vision, Strategies, and Campaigns,” and “Morals, Money, and Movements: Criminal Justice Reform as a Case Study.”

“Harvard Divinity School represents a community of scholar prophets situated between the vita activa and the vita contemplitiva,” says Brooks. “From Newark to the NAACP, as student and activist, I have drawn inspiration and insight from HDS over years. I am honored to teach, learn, and fellowship with a community seeking answers to the most difficult questions of justice of our time.”