Ben Jealous, Election's 'Unsung Hero'

The NAACP president on what he did to get blacks to the polls, and what he wants from President Obama. 

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Ben Jealous (Getty Images)

On election night, Rebuild the Dream founder and former White House adviser Van Jones, via Twitter, called NAACP President Benjamin Jealous an "unsung hero" for his organization's efforts to register new African-American voters.

Jealous told The Root hours before President Obama won re-election, "This year we have registered 432,000, and today we moved 1.2 million to the polls." Here's what he shared with Ebony in an interview this week about how the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization did it:

We did it brick-by-brick we did a training a few months ago, we sent our folks around the field, we took a standard 45-minute civic engagement training and totally redesigned it and turned it into 8 hours. We made our folks go through it and we started seeing the transformation after the first training.

We purchased a 50 state database. We're the only organization beside the two major parties to purchase all 50 states for every voter in this country and we made sure that our folks used that database to target people who needed to be signed up to vote. We went out there with a plan that we had written a year ago for how we are going to move voter registration rolls in the Black community up in every single state. We even had a target for Alaska. And...we have registered 3.5 times as many people this year as we did in 2008. And today, we moved 2.5 times more people this year than we did in 2008 -- despite voter suppression, despite voter intimidation, we met the challenge of community that was ready to be mobilized.

He also weighed in on what he'd like to see from President Obama's second term:

He needs to deal with four things straight out. 1) We need a real plan and real action to increase job creation; 2) We've got to deal with mass incarceration; 3) we've got to make sure that we keep moving the ball forward aggressively making sure that all of our children have access to a great education; and 4) we have to make sure that the gains that we've made on health care are defended and protected.

Read more at Ebony.

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