Attorney Benjamin Crump. His name is best known from representing the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, two young black men whose shooting deaths sent shockwaves through black communities across the country and polarized a nation. Their deaths brought the issue of racial bias in policing to the forefront. On Sept. 17, Crump gave an impassioned speech as the keynote speaker during a reentry forum convened by Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.).
“Us in the legal profession … and I say us because all lawyers and judges, we’re part of this legal profession that continues to intellectually justify these atrocities,” Crump said.
He cited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from the Birmingham jail” that stated: “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” Crump said he believed King’s words extended to lawyers, who have an obligation to take action in the face of injustice. “We’re not asking everybody to be on the front lines with me,” he said, adding that everyone can do something to put their “fancy degrees” to work.
From the Flint water crisis in Michigan to the state of mass incarceration in the United States, Crump touched on the issues that overarchingly impact African-American communities. He has earned a reputation for taking on the “tough cases” in “law enforcement misconduct,” said Davis.
In a nod to former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Crump stressed that every baby has the same rights regardless of the race and life circumstance of the mother. “You know that’s not the case in America today, but I challenge anybody to say that’s not the goal worth fighting for,” said Crump, also the co-founder of the MyDAD.org, which includes a program to strengthen families by empowering fathers. The program provides job-readiness, financial literacy and other resources to struggling fathers, including those transitioning from jail or prison back into their communities.
As his 15-minute address came to a close, Crump gave the audience these parting words: “When we stand up for justice for the Trayvon Martin’s of the world – and the unknown Trayvon Martin’s of the world – what we’re really doing is making America live up to its creed of being this great beacon of hope and justice that she presents herself [to be] to the rest of the world.”