The Face of the Modern Civil Rights Fight: Attorney Ben Crump Champions Change for Black Citizens and All of America
Attorney Ben Crump Champions Change for Black Citizens and All of America
The list of cases reads like headline news week after week, month after month. Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, Duante Wright, toxic water in Flint, Michigan, and banking discrimination against small businesses in underserved neighborhoods. Too many cases to list, but two things are the constant throughout: a violation of civil rights for a Black American and Ben Crump. Ben himself has become a headliner; the face of the modern civil rights fight, from courtrooms to the halls of Congress, pressing for justice and creating change. His brand, his team, and his personal style are all hallmarks of the modern era civil rights movement, a battle which has turned an important corner in the last year.
Raised in a humble environment in North Carolina, and the holder of a criminal science bachelor’s degree and a juris doctor, both from Florida State University, Ben has evolved into a true force of nature, a civil rights storm that just keeps coming. He is literally tireless, has a deep passion for his clients and treats each one with dignity, caring and respect as they navigate post-traumatic emotions and a complex legal landscape.
Ben realizes and leverages the power of the media and social media in elevating cases and keeping the light on issues that need discussion, debate, and decisive action. He is especially skilled at harnessing the energy and emotion of a moment and funneling it into a focused rallying cry at a funeral, protest, public event, or interview. He speaks from the heart and has a dynamic style that is part litigator and part preacher. And it works.
Ben is often the first call made by marginalized families across the country who have been subjected to police excessive force or other Fourth Amendment violations. Together with Bill Pintas, whose firm Pintas & Mullins in Chicago manages and markets Crump Law, Ben has developed a co-counsel network to partner with him on cases, bringing specialized legal expertise and local boots on the ground wherever they’re needed across the country.
I have been fortunate over the years to be a part of that network, but my partnership with Ben and his team became a true brotherhood in the last year, following the death of George Floyd. What I can tell you is this: Ben is truly one of the greatest collaborators I know. For all that he is and for all the gravitas he has earned, he is always willing to hear new ideas, talk through strategy and evolve as a team throughout the case. The level of respect I have for him and he has for me and my team is palpable. We have worked so closely in the trenches that when we refer to each other as “brothers from another mother” we truly mean it. That dynamic, of course, makes for a positive working relationship, but most importantly it benefits the clients and the cause.
The man is fearless and almost impossible to exhaust. In the twenty-four hours following the triple guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin on April 20, 2021, Ben was present with the Floyd family during the emotional moments when they realized justice had been served, against all odds. Then
he led a passionate press conference and did no fewer than fifty media interviews to continue hammering the critical messaging, answering questions from reporters around the world and advocating for the next step—the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act by Congress. Somewhere at the end of the interview stretch, I noticed Ben taking a precious microbreak to close his eyes and sleep standing up leaning on a conference room wall. He just needed a minute. Then, as if it never happened—and without missing a beat—he turned from the wall and conducted another interview in full energy and hugged another Floyd family member still processing the news of the day.
The shift in national sentiment toward police misconduct took a notable turn after the devastating video of George Floyd’s murder galvanized people from all walks of life in cities big and small around the country—and around the world. The need for meaningful change became the cry as trust between communities and law enforcement reached a dangerous tipping point. Ben and I saw the opportunity to engage communities, political leaders, fellow civil rights attorneys, and law enforcement in discussion. I am not saying we fixed a deeply broken system, but we did
author a whitepaper outlining ways to create greater transparency, accountability and trust with police, and we are both very proud of the country’s increased awareness and openness to change.
As you would expect from Ben, he has earned a long list of awards, accomplishments and accolades for his commitment: Founder of Benjamin Crump Social Justice Institute at Tennessee State University, former President of the National Bar Association as well as the National Civil Rights Trial Lawyers Association, Ebony Magazine’s Power 100 Most Influential AfricanAmericans, SCLC Martin Luther King Servant Leadership Award Winner, the NAACP Thurgood Marshall Award, and the National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Award. He is also the executive producer of film and television programs and an author, focusing on the portrayal of civil rights advocacy and the achievements of Black Americans in public media.
His personal network ranges from members of Congress to clients to community activists, and he is equally comfortable with all of them. His cell phone is his lifeline and it buzzes every few seconds, as he freely shares his number and makes himself accessible. And he logs more airline miles than the pilots themselves. The point being, Ben lives his personal motto and gives all that he humanly can.
He is known to say, “The measure of a man’s life can be defined by the impact he has made on the lives of his fellow human beings. What impact are you making?”
As Ben Crump hits the mid-point of his career at age fifty-one, his impact is already tangible. The list of ways in which he has changed the lives of his clients and their communities is indeed long, and the groundwork he has laid for future progress in civil rights for our country is something we all will benefit from as his work continues to come to bear fruit.
About the Author
Antonio Romanucci is the Founding Partner of Romanucci & Blandin, LLC, in Chicago, Illinois. The firm is part of the legal team representing George Floyd’s family alongside Ben Crump Law. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Romanucci and Crump, along with the George Floyd Family and the attorneys named below, were recognized for their meaningful contribution to the defense of civil rights and were the recipients of the 2021 Leonard Weinglass Award during this month’s AAJ Annual Convention in Las Vegas. The Leonard Weinglass In Defense of Civil Liberties Award is given annually to an individual—usually, but not necessarily, an attorney—who has made a notable contribution to the defense of civil liberties by bringing, trying, or resolving a suit, or by otherwise protecting or advancing civil liberties, in a way that has had a significant impact in the past year or over the course of his/her career. The murder of George Floyd created an unprecedented national movement, and the defense of his civil rights advanced the cause in our nation at a pivotal moment.
This year’s Leonard Weinglass Award recipients include:
- The George Floyd Family
- Ben Crump & Adner Marcellin | Ben Crump Law
- Antonio M. Romanucci, Bhavani Raveendran, Ian Fallon, & Nicolette Ward | Romanucci & Blandin, LLC
- Jeffrey S. Storms | Newmark Storms Dworak, LLC
- Chris Stewart, Justin Miller, & Madeleine Simmons | Stewart Miller Simmons
- Devon M. Jacob | Jacob Litigation, Inc.