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US NAACP rights group selects Cornell William Brooks as new national president and CEO

CORRECTS MIDDLE NAME TO WILLIAM - In this image provided by the NAACP, Roslyn Brock, right, chairman of the national board of directors for the NAACP, puts a NAACP pin on new national president and CEO, Cornell William Brooks on Saturday, May 17, 2014, in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The selection of Brooks came as the United States marked the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which outlawed segregation in public schools. The lawsuit was argued by the organization's legal arm. (AP Photo/NAACP, J. Adams)

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CORRECTS MIDDLE NAME TO WILLIAM - In this image provided by the NAACP, Roslyn Brock, right, chairman of the national board of directors for the NAACP, puts a NAACP pin on new national president and CEO, Cornell William Brooks on Saturday, May 17, 2014, in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The selection of Brooks came as the United States marked the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which outlawed segregation in public schools. The lawsuit was argued by the organization's legal arm. (AP Photo/NAACP, J. Adams)

WASHINGTON - The NAACP rights group announced Saturday that lawyer and activist Cornell William Brooks would become its new national president and CEO.

The selection of Brooks came as the United States marked the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which outlawed segregation in public schools. The lawsuit was argued by the organization's legal arm.

Brooks, 53, of Annandale, New Jersey, will become the organization's 18th national president, replacing interim leader Lorraine Miller who has served since Benjamin Jealous ended his five-year tenure last year.

The NAACP, which was founded in 1909, says it's the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the U.S

In an interview with The Associated Press, Brooks said he was looking forward to the work.

"I am deeply humbled and honoured to be entrusted with the opportunity to lead this powerful historic organization," Brooks said. "In our fight to ensure voting rights, economic equality, health equity, and ending racial discrimination for all people, there is indeed much work to be done."

Brooks said he was particularly humbled that his selection came around the Brown v. Board anniversary.

"As a graduate of both Head Start and Yale Law School, I am a beneficiary, an heir and a grandson if you will, of Brown versus Board of Education," Brooks said. "My life is the direct product, if you will, of the legacy of the blood, sweat and tears of the NAACP."

Brooks will be formally presented to the organization at its convention in Las Vegas in July.

Brooks, a minister, is now president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. He has worked as a lawyer for the Federal Communication Commission and the Justice Department and also ran for Congress as a Democrat in Virginia in 1998.

"As long as America continues to be a great, but imperfect nation, there will be a need for the NAACP," Brooks said.

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Follow Jesse J. Holland on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jessejholland

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