“One of the nation’s most prominent civil rights leaders” (Washington Post), a New York Times bestselling author, community organizer, investigative journalist, Ivy League professor, and former head of the NAACP, Ben Jealous draws from a life lived on America’s racial fault line to deliver a series of gripping and lively parables that call on each of us to reconcile, heal, and work fearlessly to make America one nation.

Never Forget Our People Were Always Free illuminates for each of us how the path to healing America’s broken heart starts with each of us having the courage to heal our own.The son of parents who had to leave Maryland because their cross-racial marriage was illegal, Ben Jealous’ lively, courageous and empathetic storytelling calls on every American to look past deeply-cut divisions and recognize we are all in the same boat now. Along the way Jealous grapples with hidden American mysteries, including:

  • Why do white men die from suicide more often than black men die from murder?
  • How did racial profiling kill an American president?
  • What happens when a Ku Klux Klansman wrestles with what Jesus actually said? 
  • How did Dave Chappelle know the DC Snipers were Black? 
  • Why shouldn't the civil rights movement give up on rednecks?
  • When is what we have collectively forgotten about race more important than what we actually know?
  • What do the most indecipherable things our elders say tell us about ourselves?

 Told as a series of parables, Never Forget Our People Were Always Free features intimate glimpses of political, and faith leaders as different as Jack Kemp, Stacey Abrams, and the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu and heroes as unlikely as a retired constable, a female pirate from Madagascar, a long lost Irishman, a death row inmate, and a man with a confederate flag over his heart.

More than anything, Never Forget Our People Were Always Free offers readers hope America’s oldest wounds can heal and her oldest divisions be overcome.

About the author(s)

“One of the nation’s most prominent civil rights leaders” (Washington Post), former national NAACP President Ben Jealous grew up the son of a white father who descends from seven soldiers in the American Revolution and a black mother whose American bloodline flows with that of Thomas Jefferson’s grandmother.

Ben Jealous is President of People For the American Way, Professor of the Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, and the New York Times bestselling author of Reach: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading, and Succeeding. He is also a successful tech investor who has helped grow more than two dozen startups built to have a positive social impact.

Formerly an investigative reporter at Mississippi’s frequently-firebombed Jackson Advocate newspaper, and a popular speaker on college campuses and at community and business leadership events, Jealous is known both for his raucously insightful storytelling and resilient optimism passed down by a grandmother whose own grandfather had been born into slavery and went on to serve as a statesman in the Virginia legislature.

In 2013, the Baltimore Sun named Jealous Marylander of the Year for his work helping lead efforts that passed marriage equality, abolished the death penalty and passed the DREAM Act in that state in a single year. He is a graduate of Columbia University and Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He is the proud father of a daughter and son. He lives with his family and their dog Charlie along the Chesapeake Bay.


“Ben Jealous appeals to our ‘better angels’ through storytelling that is riotously funny, deeply moving, and profoundly insightful. He is utterly brilliant, and his work to bridge our differences has never been more important.” — Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Never Forget Our People Were Always Free offers a timely meditation on the challenges we must continue to confront, and the progress made, as we pursue our common humanity.” — Stacey Abrams

Never Forget is powerful and poignant, but it is also proudly optimistic in many ways.” — Walter Isaacson

Never Forget is rooted in the powerful hope that we can solve our country’s most Difficult problems by working together.” — Van Jones

Never Forget is a must-read manifesto of what’s possible when we center love, faith, and aspiration in our common cause.” — April Ryan, Author of Black Women Will Save the World: An Anthem

“Through a series of poignant vignettes and conversations with often extraordinary people, Ben Jealous taps into universal truths about the Black experience and shows us how we heal and grow.” — Elie Mystal, author of Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution

“Ben Jealous uses a warm and captivating writing style to show us that the original state of the human being is freedom.” — Robert F. McDonnell, former governor of Virginia

“Few individuals can tell a story as authentically and entertainingly as Ben Jealous.” — Virginia Kase Solomón, CEO of League of Women Voters

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