Unraveling Racial History: Benjamin Jealous’s Quest for Freedom


After a DNA test reveals he is a descendant of both Robert E. Lee and a former slave, Benjamin Jealous embarks on a Wild Ride to uncover the truth about the oldest open wound in America and the possibility of bridging the divide between black and white.

Benjamin Jealous is our guest on this episode of Everyday Conversations on Race for Everyday People. He is a former president of the NAACP, a civil rights activist, and an author. He is the author of the book, “Never Forget: Our People Were Always Free,” which explores racism, the history of the United States, and the power of storytelling.


In this episode, you will learn the following:

  1. How is racism still affecting our country today?
  2. What can we do to bridge the divide between different groups of people?
  3. How did the concept of race originate and how has it been used to divide us?


Chapter Summaries:


The book is about the oldest open wound in this country, the wound of racism. Author wrote it as a series of speeches, or monologues to his computer. The book is a very conversational book, a book a lot of people find surprisingly funny.



 Richard Yates Bland was the last white Bland to own my family. Robert Lee was the leader of the black Republicans in Virginia. What gives a slave man hubris to lead entire political parties?



 The title comes from something that we believe was first said by our female Kunta Kente of our family if you will. Never forget, our people were always free. That’s what all the women in Atlanta I’ve ever known of were rebellious. And that’s what put the steel in their spine.



Dr. King was trying to bring poor white folks and poor black folks together to build a better America. The ultimate purpose of racism is to divide these two groups so they can’t assert their right to get out of poverty. The media should show the real face of poverty, which is black and white and brown and Asian.


Guest Bio


Ben Jealous, is the youngest-ever person to have been elected as the national NAACP President; was just named the Sierra Club’s Executive Director (the first person of color selected for the post), and is also a University of Pennsylvania, Professor of Practice. Timed for Black History Month, his new book just hit #1 in the African-American biographies category on Amazon. While researching the book, Jealous learned he is a cousin to slave owner Thomas Jefferson, confederate Robert E. Lee; AND a distant cousin of Dick Cheney! The book is dedicated to his grandmother who taught him to ’never forget our people were always free,’ which he considers his personal mantra of inspiration—hoping that we all: White/Black, Democrat/Republican—can finally join together to snuff out race; which Jealous says was not what our country was built on in the first place.


Host Bio

Simma Lieberman, The Inclusionist helps leaders create inclusive cultures. She is a consultant, speaker and facilitator and the host of the podcast, “Everyday Conversations on Race for Everyday People.”

Contact Simma@SimmaLieberman.com

Go to www.simmalieberman.com and www.raceconvo.com for more information

Simma is a member of and inspired by the global organization IAC (Inclusion Allies Coalition)