Cornell William Brooks to Join STH and LAW Faculty as Visiting Professor for 2017-2018 Academic Year


Contact: Kimberly Macdonald
Marketing & Communications Manager, School of Theology
Ann Comer-Woods
Assistant Dean for Communications & Marketing, School of Law
Boston, MA – August 21, 2017 – Boston University School of Theology (STH) with Boston University School of Law (LAW) are pleased to announce that Reverend Cornell William Brooks, Esq. (STH’87, LAW Hon.’15), former President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), will join both the STH and LAW faculties as a visiting professor of Social Ethics, Law, and Justice Movements for the 2017-2018 academic year.
This unique appointment will be co-hosted by STH and LAW. Brooks is expected to teach one course each semester that will be offered to students enrolled at either school, and will also be available for activities such as lectures and seminars, with a particular focus on theology and/or law. His fall semester 2017 course, titled “Violence, the Vote, and Hope: An Examination of Ethics, Law and Justice Movements”, will allow students to explore efforts to secure the right to vote and end racialized violence through advocacy in the streets, from the pulpit, and through the courts.
“In this moment of history when racism, persistent injustice, and violence are haunting our society and threatening the most vulnerable of our people, BU is fortunate to have Cornell William Brooks with us,” says Dean Mary Elizabeth Moore of the Boston University School of Theology. “Drawing upon his own study of theology and social ethics in the BU School of Theology and on his study and practice of law, he will bring his own questions and visions to our collective discussions of injustice and our efforts to build a human community in which human rights and dignity are assured for all people.”
Brooks earned a Bachelor of Arts with honors in political science from Jackson State University in 1983, and his Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in social ethics and systematic theology from Boston University School of Theology in 1987. As a Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar while studying at Boston University, he was awarded both the Oxnam-Leibman Fellowship for outstanding scholarship and promoting racial harmony, and the Jefferson Fellowship for outstanding scholarship and excellence in preaching. In 1990, he earned his Juris Doctorate from Yale Law School, where he serviced as a Senior Editor of the Yale Law Journal and Member of the Yale Law and Policy Review.
“We are honored that Cornell Brooks will be joining us this year to teach a course that is highly relevant to our law students,” says Dean Maureen A. O’Rourke of the Boston University School of Law. “He brings a unique perspective to both the ethical and statutory interpretations of the law that should be both thought-provoking and instructive for our students.”
Prior to the NAACP, Brooks had previously served as Executive Director of the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington, was a trial attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, was the 1998 Democratic Nominee for the US House of Representatives for the 10th District of Virginia, was the Senior Counsel of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and served as the President and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.
He has authored several published articles and essays, and delivered 11 keynote or commencement addresses at domestic and international universities since 2015, as well as hundreds of speeches. Rev. Brooks also serves as a regular Contributor for CNN, providing analysis and commentary on public affairs, civil rights and social ethics. His appearances include “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer”, “CNN Newsroom”, and “New Day.”
“Amidst this Twitter-age Civil Rights Movement, it is a humbling honor to return to Boston University as a visiting professor, an institution that has inspired the moral imagination of the nation and my own moral aspirations as an attorney and ordained minister,” says Rev. Brooks. “This is a both powerful and poignant moment to be at the School of Theology and the School of Law.”
Since 1839, Boston University School of Theology has been preparing leaders to do good. A seminary of the United Methodist Church, Boston University School of Theology is a robustly ecumenical institution that welcomes students from diverse faith traditions who are pursuing a wide range of vocations – parish ministry, conflict transformation, chaplaincy, campus ministry, administration, non-profit management, social work, teaching, justice advocacy, peacemaking, interfaith dialogue, and more. Our world-renowned faculty and strong heritage help students nurture their academic goals and realize any ministry imaginable. For more information, please visit
Founded in 1872, Boston University School of Law is a top-tier law school with a faculty recognized nationally for exceptional teaching and preeminent scholarship. The School offers a full-time JD degree, five LLM degrees, and 17 dual degrees. Students can explore virtually any area of the law in more than 200 classes and seminars, 24 clinics and externships, and 21 study abroad programs. Since its founding in the 19th century, BU Law has admitted qualified students without regard to race, gender, religion, or national original. For more information, please visit
Cornell Brooks BU Press Release 8-20-17 FINAL