Reverend Jacques Andre DeGraff
In a room full of dignitaries and media mavens, Reverend Jacques DeGraff stands out. His calm and engaging demeanor draws you in, forcing you to listen and understand his points of view on current issues. In a disarming manner, he uses his sharp wit and command of information to dispel the opposition’s case without being dismissive. In fact, he loves a rigorous debate and, armed with a lifetime of implausible experiences that he weaves into his presentation, he usually wins the argument.
Invariably, these wins are on behalf of the disenfranchised. For most of his life, Reverend DeGraff has been an outspoken advocate for economic and social justice for people of color.
Meeting The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was turning point in his life. At the time, Reverend De Graff was a high school student attending a gifted youth program at Morehouse College. That encounter led him on the path to activism. He later campaigned against the United States’ role in the Vietnam War, police brutality, genocide in the Sudan, and apartheid in South Africa.
Currently, Reverend DeGraff is an active member of the One Hundred Black Men of New York, past Vice President, and a member of the founding chapter of the international organization. The One Hundred Black Men of New York is a philanthropic organization dedicated to educating and empowering African-American youth. Reverend DeGraff and his 100 Black Men brethren founded the Eagle Academy Schools for young boys throughout New York City.
Reverend DeGraff has held the position as chief of protocol in the National Action Network, traveling with Reverend Al Sharpton to the Sudan to spotlight abuses against Christians, and to Cuba to meet with Premier Fidel Castro to discuss the U.S. embargo. His international travels allowed him to witness the impact of gender issues on global development. His organizational and communications skills have led to senior positions in development and construction in New York government. He also has spearheaded political campaigns on the local, state and national levels.
Today Reverend Degraff serves as the pioneering chair of the School Construction Diversity Council that sets the standard across the state for minority- and women-owned business participation. The City of New York honored him as its MWBE Advocate of the Year. He has served as lead negotiator for the breakthrough Collective Bargaining Agreement (PLA) with New York City and the Building Construction Trades Council on behalf of the Minority Business Leadership Council that created unprecedented contractual and job opportunities for minorities and women. He was the featured speaker at the United Nations at its Commission on Violence against Women and coordinated a clergy prayer vigil at the United Nations to protest the bloodshed in Darfur, for which he was featured on the CBS Evening News. He was named to the Nielsen Media African American Advisory Board after he championed for accuracy in media ratings to include communities of color. He was invited by Pope Benedict to attend the Ecumenical Prayer Service during his recent Papal visit along with Christian and Orthodox leaders from across the country. Most recently, Reverend DeGraff received, from the State of Israel, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for Lifetime contributions in the struggle for social justice.
Reverend Degraff is a sought after speaker and a contributor on FOX NEWS.