Prominent civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump will be the keynote speaker at Tennessee State University’s Fall 2016 Commencement on Dec. 10. Crump is the noted Florida lawyer, an attorney at the Tallahassee, Florida based law firm Parks & Crump, LLC, who represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Terence Crutcher in police shooting cases that made headlines around the world. Crump was also an advocate in the Robbie Tolan police brutality U.S. Supreme Court case, as well as the Martin Lee Anderson boot camp death case.
Crump was also the keynote speaker at the 25th anniversary gala for the National Association of African American Honors Programs held at TSU on Oct. 31. During his speech, he said that those who see injustice and do nothing help to promote abuse. He told students, in particular, that as future leaders and educators they have a “moral” obligation to help stem out injustices in their communities.
“You’re the ones who are going to have the good jobs, you are going to have the education, you have the talent, and if you don’t speak up for our community, if you don’t stand up for our community, if you don’t fight for our community, then who will,” he said.
Crump is the 73rd President of the National Bar Association, the largest organization of lawyers of color in the world, representing over 60,000 black lawyers, judges, and legal professionals. He has received numerous awards, including the SCLC Martin Luther King Servant Leader Award, and the NAACP Thurgood Marshall Award. Ebony Magazine has recognized him as one of the Top 100 trial lawyers.
“Attorney Crump believes in fighting to preserve the justice that minorities have achieved throughout the civil rights era,” according to Crump’s website.
The commencement is scheduled for 9 a.m. in the Howard C. Gentry Complex on the university’s main campus. More than 600 undergraduate and graduate students will receive degrees in various disciplines during the ceremony at the Howard C. Gentry Complex on the university’s main campus.
Benjamin Lloyd Crump was born on October 10, 1969, in Lumberton, North Carolina, near Fort Bragg where his biological father served in the United States Army. The oldest of nine siblings and step-siblings, Crump grew up in an extended family and was raised by his grandmother Mittie. His mother Helen, worked as a hotel maid and in a local Converse shoe factory. His mother sent him to attend high school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where he lived with her second husband, a math teacher, whom Crump identifies as his father. He attended Florida State University and received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 1992. Crump received his Juris Doctor from Florida State University in 1995.
Crump is known for taking on high visibility pro bono cases with widespread media attention and civil rights implications. An example was the shooting of Trayvon Martin, who on February 26, 2012 was killed by George Zimmerman. Crump represents Martin’s family.
Crump also represents the family of Alesia Thomas, a 35-year-old single African-American mother who died while in police custody in August 2012. On August 11, 2014, the family of Michael Brown announced that they would be hiring Crump to represent their case, especially as the death had been widely compared to the Trayvon Martin case.
Other clients include the family of Martin Lee Anderson, an African-American teenager who died after a beating in 2006 by guards in a Florida youth detention center; the family of Genie McMeans, Jr., an African-American driver who died after being shot by a white state Trooper; the family of Ronald Weekley Jr., a 20-year-old African American skateboarder beaten by police in Venice, California; the family of Tamir Rice, an African-American youth who was killed by police in Cleveland, Ohio while holding an air gun (a replica of a real gun); and the family of Antonio Zambrano-Montes, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who was killed by three policeman in Pasco, Washington while throwing rocks.
He previously represented the family of Kendrick Johnson, an African-American high school student who was found dead at his school in Valdosta, Georgia under mysterious circumstances, but stepped down from their legal team in late 2015. Crump is representing Corey Jones, who was killed by a plainclothes officer while waiting for a tow truck in South Florida. He recently took the job of representing Terrence Crutcher’s family, an unarmed black man shot and killed by a Tulsa Police officer