Skip to content

Ben Chavis will begin teaching about race


At Duke University

By Stacy M. Brown | NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Duke University plans to welcome National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. as the 2024 Environmental Justice and Racial Equity Fellow. A distinguished civil rights leader, global business figure, faith leader, and public intellectual, Chavis will bring his wealth of experience to the inaugural fellowship, linking his teaching, research, and service contributions with Duke’s overarching strategic objectives, notably climate change and racial equity.

“I believe Rev. Dr. Chavis embodies the history and hopes of Duke University. His experience at the crossroads of church and society will inspire our racial and environmental justice work,” Dean Edgardo A. Colón-Emeric of the Duke Divinity School, stated. “It’s a gift, in this centennial year, to welcome back a distinguished alumni of Duke Divinity School and a prophetic intellectual from rural North Carolina.”

Throughout his illustrious career, Chavis, a North Carolina native, has been a stalwart advocate for social, environmental, and political justice, coining the term “environmental racism” and leading prominent organizations such as the NAACP, National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, and National Council of Churches.

An organizer of the Million Man March, Chavis has led the NNPA, the trade association of over 230 African American newspapers and media companies comprising the Black Press of America, for nearly a decade. His fellowship promises to enrich Duke University through expert instruction and scholarly research, offering a valuable opportunity for the community to delve into critical issues at the intersection of environmental justice and racial equity.

“Dr. Chavis’ appointment elevates the perspectives of climate justice and the intersection of race and environmental quality in the implementation of Duke’s Climate Commitment,” said Lori Bennear, the Stanback Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment.

In the upcoming spring semester, Chavis will co-convene an undergraduate course titled “The Lived Experience of Race and Racism” alongside Duke Public Policy Professor Jay Pearson. The Office of Undergraduate Education and the Office of the Provost are supporting the study, which will examine the complexities of race and racism while highlighting the socially constructed nature of race and its implications across legislative, political, legal, economic, and material dimensions.

Now open for registration, the course aims to provide students from Duke and Triangle-area colleges and universities with knowledge, effective communication strategies, relationship building, and collaborative racial equity planning. Officials said “The Lived Experience of Race and Racism” course will employ experts from various disciplines with scholarly research and formal educational practices.