Chavis, Benjamin, Jr.

Chavis, Benjamin (Franklin), Jr.

(1948–  ) Protestant minister, civil rights activist; born in Oxford, N.C. From a long line of preachers, he took a degree in chemistry at the University of North Carolina. In 1971, participating in a protest against school segregation in Wilmington, N.C., he was arrested; he eventually spent four years in jail and by the time his conviction was overturned by a Federal court in 1980, he had earned a degree in divinity from Duke University. He went on to become not only a minister for the United Church of Christ but an activist for its Commission for Racial Justice, fighting for civil rights in a variety of arenas. In 1993, after a highly publicized search, he was selected as the executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); he was charged with reviving that organization's flagging image, specifically with making it more appealing and relevant to the concerns of young African-Americans. In 1994 he was dismissed following allegations of unauthorized use of NAACP funds.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.