[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/10/benjamin.jealous.art.jpg caption="Closing gaps in access to education is one of the goals the NAACP will continue to pursue in its next 100 years."]
By Benjamin Todd Jealous
Special to CNN
Editor's note: Benjamin Todd Jealous is president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which holds its 100th annual convention in New York from July 11-16.
(CNN) - As the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People prepares to celebrate its Centennial in New York, the city of its birth, I'm confident that we as a nation have turned an important corner on the long road toward racial and economic equality for all Americans.
Established in 1909 by a core group of black and white Americans, the NAACP's mission has been clarified and sharpened during our first 100 years. We have covered a lot of ground in the march to improve the lives of millions of Americans, but there remains much more work to be done.
The NAACP's legacy of accomplishment is rich, and cannot be dismissed or subjected to gainsaying in the wake of the election of President Obama.
Yes, we are energized and emboldened by the historic election of America's first black president. We were not surprised that Americans, at long last, voted to choose high-quality ideas, soaring spirit and bright vision over the racial, cultural and class distinctions that have so long divided us. The multi-ethnic coalition that coalesced around Obama is familiar to us, indeed.
Our members always have included whites, Asians, Latinos and Native Americans. Right now, our 1,200 branches span the breadth of this continent, and our members include white folks in southern Maine, Native Americans in Alabama, Americans of East Asian descent in the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, and of course, black Americans throughout the country with ancestral links to the Caribbean, Central America, South America and Africa.
We are a civil and human rights organization, by our founders' design. In our next century, our efforts will make the second part of that equation more evident.
Now, insistent questions have arisen about the relevancy of our mission: Haven't we entered a "post-racial" era in America, with the election of President Obama?