Chuck Kellner* Ben Crump, the civil rights advocate and social justice lawyer, grew up in North Carolina but has become a national legal champion of the oppressed, building his legal practice
He has acted in some of the major, headline-making cases coming before the US courts including representing George Floyd, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown as well as the plaintiffs who sued Johnson & Johnson in the baby powder lawsuit that alleged the company’s talcum powder had lead to ovarian cancer.
The company denies the claims, although a Missouri appellate court lin 2020 ruled in favor of ovarian cancer victims suing the company as part of a separate lawsuit, claiming their condition was caused by asbestos in its baby powder and other talc products.
Crump’s major cases have seen the attorney consistently shine a spotlight on what he sees as systemic racism crippling Black America, opening key questions about access to justice and the efficacy of the justice system at all.
Most recently he has been involved in a case involving an unarmed teen in San Antonio who was shot by a former police officer.
The founder of Ben Crump Law in Tallahassee, Florida, Crump
Ben Crump Snapshot
|Born – 1969 in Lumberton, North Carolina.|
|Education – Florida State University, qualifying with a bachelor of laws in 1992 and a Juris Doctor in 1995|
|Law Firm – Ben Crump Law a team of 11 attorneys serving in 8 offices from the West Coast to New York, Atlanta, Florida, Washington DC, Texas and Tallahassee.|
|Memberships – Crump is the President of the National Civil Rights Trial Lawyers Association and has also previously served as President of the National Bar Association. He was the first African-American to chair the Florida State University College of Law Board of Directors and is the founder and director of the Benjamin Crump Social Justice Institute. In 2021, St. Thomas University College of Law, one of the most diverse law schools in the nation, announced the Benjamin L. Crump Center for Social Justice in his honor.|
|Awards – In 2021, Crump was included on the Time 100, Time‘s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world and has also featured as himself in the reality tv show ‘You The Jury’. |
He has also received the NAACP’s Thurgood Marshall Award, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Thurgood Marshall Award, and the National Bar Association’s Presidential Award for Advocacy, among others.
He also appeared in the Netflix original documentary Civil: Ben Crump. The documentary provides an up-close look at the passion and drive behind Crump, also known by some as “Black America’s Attorney General”
Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and George Floyd, people affected by the Flint water crisis, and the plaintiffs behind the 2019 Johnson & Johnson baby powder lawsuit alleging the company’s talcum powder product led to ovarian cancer diagnoses. Crump is also founder of the firm Ben Crump Law of Tallahassee, Florida.[
Crump has appeared in some of the most sensational cases that have created controversy and ructions throughout America, based on civil rights, police abuse and related issues.
In 2022 he handled multiple new cases involving allegations of police brutality, illegal shooting or injuring of people in custody and similar claims.
Among the major cases have been –
- Trayvon Martin case: Crump represented the family of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American teenager who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012. The case was a typical case for Crump which obtained national attention and sparked a conversation about racial profiling and gun violence. Crump made the notable comment in court: “You kill a dog; you go to jail. You kill a little black boy, nothing happens.”
- Michael Brown case: Crump represented the family of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager who was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. The case sparked widespread protests and a national conversation about police brutality and racism.
- Breonna Taylor case: Crump represented the family of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician who was shot and killed by police officers in her Louisville, Kentucky home in 2020. The case sparked widespread protests and renewed calls for police reform.
- George Floyd case: Crump represented the family of George Floyd, an African American man who was controversially killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2020 in a situation that sparked outrage and protests about police brutality and racism.
But it is not just criminal cases that have involved Ben Crump’s advocacy.
In civil lawsuits he has represented the residents of Flint, Michigan, who were affected by the poisoned water of the Flint River, as well as the family of Henrietta Lacks in a landmark reparations case.
He achieved verdicts for the families who have faced injustices, including a $411 million verdict for Duane Washington who was injured in a truck accident, along with a $641 million settlement for the children of Flint, Michigan.
In the George Floyd case he achieved a $27 million settlement for the family and $12 million settlement for the family of Breonna Taylor, and over $200 million in settlements in banking while Black cases, among others.
Crump was brought up by his grandmother as one of nine siblings and step-siblings but remained close to his mother, who worked as a maid and a shoe company worker and with her second husband, a maths teacher.
He is married to Dr. Genae Angelique Crump (pictured above with their family) who he met while studying law at Florida State University. She received degrees in Educational Leadership and Administration from the Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University and the two have one daughter and they are also the adoptive parents of two of his nephews (JeMarcus Olajuwan Crump and Chancellor Isiah Crump).
The Touch Questions
Crump continues to confront Americans with the tough questions about their ‘two tier’ justice system.
While White mass shooters are usually taken alive, the ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ call doesn’t work for unarmed Black people, he says.
“Every chance I get, I try to force them to have a conscious thought about that question because a lot of times until you engage them, they don’t really get it,” Crump said to CNN.
His own hero, the man who helps his manage the multifarious claims and issues he deal with daily, is Thurgood Marshall, the first Black member of the US Supreme Court.
It was Marshall who helped him get through some tough days during his boyhood in a small, racially divided North Carolina town near Fort Bragg.
“The one thing that motivates me is that Thurgood Marshall is my personal hero, my North Star,” Crump says. “I think about how daunting it was for Marshall and our ancestors, but they never gave up hope.”