ben_jealous_w_1.jpgLAKE WORTH – Benjamin Jealous, who made history in 2008 when he became the youngest president of the NAACP, will give the keynote address at the Palm Beach State College 15th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Breakfast on Jan. 16. The college also announced it will present four Martin Luther King Jr. Awards.

The honorees include Estella Pyfrom, who will receive the Individual Award. She gained widespread attention and was named a Top CNN Hero in 2013 after spending her retirement money to establish “Estella’s Brilliant Bus,’’ a mobile unit that travels in Palm Beach County providing computer access and instruction to hundreds of underserved youth. George Gentile will be presented with the Alumni Award. He is a landscape architect and planner who has served the community by participating in many organizations and charities, including serving as co-founder and past president of the Juvenile Diabetes Association of Palm Beach County.

The Student Award will go to Nephtalie Jean, a Palm Beach State College student who volunteers with various organizations, including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  The group People Engaged in Active Community Efforts (PEACE) will be honored in the Organization category for its work to bring together large numbers of people to hold political and economic systems accountable around issues of injustice affecting low-income and marginalized populations in the county.

Jealous, 40, who was scheduled to leave his post at the end of last year, began working at 18, opening mail at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He has been a leader of successful state and local movements to ban the death penalty, outlaw racial profiling, defend voting rights, secure marriage equality, and free multiple wrongfully incarcerated people.

Under his leadership, the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil-rights organization, experienced its first multi-year membership growth in 20 years and became the largest community-based nonpartisan voter registration operation in the country.

Jealous brought environmentalist organizations into the fight to protect voting rights and convinced well-known conservatives to join the NAACP in championing the end of mass incarceration. 

The Palm Beach State College 15th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Breakfast will begin at 7:30 a.m. Jan. 16 with complimentary breakfast in the MLK Jr. Plaza on the Lake Worth campus, 4200 Congress Ave. The program begins at 8:15 a.m. It is free and open to the public.

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