Cornell Brooks, lawyer and activist, named new head of NAACP

Cornell William Brooks, a lawyer and civil rights activist, has been named president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the U.S. civil-rights group announced on Saturday.

Brooks, who is also an ordained minister and becomes the organization's 18th president, is currently in charge of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, an urban research and advocacy group based in Newark.

"In our fight to ensure voting rights, economic equality, health equity, and an end to racial discrimination for all people, there is much work to do," Brooks said in a statement released by the 105-year-old NAACP, the largest civil-rights group in the United States.

While at the New Jersey institute, Brooks helped shape state legislation in 2010 that made it easier for former inmates to find work, according to a biography on the institute's website.

Brooks previously worked as a lawyer for the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice, and, in 1998, he unsuccessfully ran for Congress as the Democratic nominee for the 10th District of Virginia, the biography said.

Brooks, whose appointment was announced by the NAACP's board of directors, will address the group's national convention in Las Vegas in July, the group said.

Benjamin Jealous stepped down in January after a five-year tenure as national president and CEO, and was replaced on an interim basis by former U.S. House of Representatives clerk Lorraine Miller.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York, Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Gunna Dickson)