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Dr. Benjamin Chavis

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is the President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and President of Education Online Services Corporation (EOServe Corp), the world’s leading provider of online higher education for Historically Black Colleges and Universities across America, as well as other academic institutions of higher learning throughout the world. Additionally, Dr. Chavis is the President and CEO of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN). Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., along side of Business Mogul Russell Simmons, co-founded HSAN, the world’s largest coalition of hip-hop artists and recording industry executives. Dr. Chavis also travels around the world giving lectures on varies topics, helping to uplift, transform, and sculpt ideals.




Benjamin Franklin Chavis, Jr. was born and raised in Oxford, North Carolina. As a twelve-year-old, Chavis effectively desegregated his hometown's whites-only public library, becoming the first African American to be issued a library card in the town's history. In 1965, while a college freshman, Chavis became a statewide youth coordinator in North Carolina for the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Chavis was appointed Field Officer in the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice in 1968 (The commission had been established in 1963 to coordinate justice strategies, community organization, and the like). After his graduation from UNCC in 1969, Chavis returned to Oxford and taught at Mary Potter High School, still all black even though the courts ordered school desegregation. In 1970 following the murder of 23-year-old Henry Marrow and the acquittal by an all-white jury of the two men who killed him, Chavis organized a protest march from Oxford to North Carolina's State Capitol Building in Raleigh. Chavis went on to organize a black boycott of white businesses in Oxford that lasted for 18 months until the town agreed to integrate its public facilities, including schools. In the same year, he was appointed Southern Regional Program Director of the 1.7 million member United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice (UCC-CRJ). Chavis received his ordination in the United Church of Christ in 1980. In 1985, he was named the Executive Director and CEO of the UCC-CRJ. In 1981, Chavis coined the term environmental racism. “Racial discrimination in the deliberated targeting of ethnic and minority communities for exposure to toxic and hazardous waste sites and facilities, coupled with the systematic exclusion of minorities in environmental policy making, enforcement, and remediation.” Publishing the landmark national study: Toxic Waste and Race in the United States of America, that statistically revealed the direct correlation between race and the location of toxic waste throughout the United States. Chavis is considered by many environmental grassroots activists to be the “father of the post-modern environmental justice movement” that has steadily grown throughout the nation and world. In 1988, Dr. Chavis was elected Vice President of the National Council of Churches. Dr. Chavis also served as chairman of its Prophetic Justice unit as a Minister of the United Church of Christ.

In 1993, Dr. Chavis became the youngest Executive Director and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Dr. Chavis is a lifetime member of the NAACP, and first joined at the age of twelve as a youth leader of the Granville County, North Carolina Chapter. In this same year, President Clinton named Dr. Chavis as a member of the President’s Council on Sustainable Development to help develop U.S. policies that would encourage economic growth, job creation, and environmental protection. In 1995, Chavis with other civil rights leaders founded the National African American Leadership Summit (NAALS). Dr. Chavis served as Executive Director and CEO of NAALS from 1995 to 1997. During his tenure, Dr. Chavis directed the organization, planning and implementation of the Million Man March in Washington, DC. In 1995, NAALS appointed Dr. Chavis to serve as the National Director of the Million Man March. In 2001, Dr. Chavis and Russell Simmons Co-founded the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network. In 2009, Dr. Chavis joined with Ezell Brown to establish the Education Online Services Corporation. In 2013, Chavis launched his national lecture series, traveling to towns, Universities, and public forums uplifting and encouraging unity. In that same year, Chavis began writing weekly columns for the National Newspaper Association (NNPA). He also went on to become a member of the National Association for Equal Opportunity (NAFEO).



In 1971, the Commission for Racial Justice assigned Field Officer Chavis to Wilmington, North Carolina to help desegregate the public school system. Since the city abruptly closed the black high school, laid off its principal and most of its teachers, and distributed the students to other schools, due to conflicts between black and white students. The students organized a boycott to protest for their civil rights.

Chavis and nine others were arrested February of 1972, charged with conspiracy and arson. Following a controversial trial, the entire group was convicted and sentenced to over 100 years (combined sentence). Chavis, who was 24 and the oldest of the group, drew the longest sentence of 34 years. The ten were incarcerated while supporters pursued appeals. The case of the Wilmington Ten received massive international condemnation as a political prosecution. In December 1980, the Federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial and overturned the original conviction because of "prosecutorial misconduct.

From this experience, Benjamin Chavis wrote two books: An American Political Prisoner Appeals for Human Rights (while still in prison) and Psalms from Prison. In 1978, Chavis received the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award. On December 31, 2012, Chavis and the surviving members of the Wilmington Ten were granted Pardons of Innocence by North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue.


Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. received the Bachelor of Arts, BA, in Chemistry from University of North Carolina; the Master of Divinity, M.Div., magna cum laude, from Duke University; and the Doctor of Ministry, D. Min., from Howard University. Dr. Chavis has also completed course requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy, Ph.D., in systematic theology, Union Theological Seminary.


Dr. Chavis has authored books and other publications including: An American Political Prisoner Appeals for Human Rights, Psalms from Prison, Toxic Waste and Race in the United States of America: A National Report on the Racial and Socioeconomic Characteristics of Communities with Hazardous Waste Sites, Report of Fact Finding Mission of African American Church and Community Leaders to the Republic of Angola, Pastoral Letter on Contemporary Racism and the Role of the Church, and The National Agenda: Public Policy Issues, Analyses, And Programmatic Plans of Action (2000-2008).

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