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Criminal justice expert takes reins at Minneapolis NAACP

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Minnesota Governor's Residence protest
Jason Sole criticizes police on their use of riot gear on peaceful protesters outside the Minnesota Governor's Residence in St. Paul on July 28.
Evan Frost | MPR News file

Jason Sole has been elected the new president of the NAACP's Minneapolis chapter. 

Sole is a teacher at Hamline University and a consultant and trainer working with at-risk boys and young men, plus law enforcement agencies, to reduce the rate of people returning to prison. He also works with incarcerated youth coaching them for their re-entry.  

He knows some of these issues first hand — he's a former gang member, drug dealer and a convicted felon. 

Before taking over as Minneapolis NAACP president, he was the chairman of criminal justice reform for the NAACP chapter. He succeeds civil rights attorney and activist leader Nekima Levy-Pounds after receiving her endorsement. Levy-Pounds chose not to seek a second term leading the organization.

As president, Sole says he plans to broaden his focus to include other issues that impact the lives of people of color.

  "There's so many different things. I just got to really be open to all those things," he said. "I'm criminal justice. I teach it. I'm a consultant in it. So, I'm criminal justice as far as my expertise goes. But I got to broaden my horizons and actually do all the things the people need me to do."

Sole says those issues include education and health care disparities.

He sat down with All Things Considered host Tom Crann to discuss his plans for the future.

Use the audio player above to hear their conversation.