Benjamin Crump, a civil rights and personal injury attorney, discussed racial injustices and creating change in the live event “The Journey to Justice: A Conversation with Ben Crump,” hosted by the Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Distinguished Lecture Series (DLS) Committee on Feb 16.
Dedicated to justice, Crump has represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, Martin Lee Anderson and Breonna Taylor. According to the Ben Crump Law PLLC website, the law firm focuses on devoting and advocating for the voiceless of our society whenever or whatever kind of harm may have befallen them.
According to the Wisconsin Union website, Crump serves within many organizations, including the American Bar Association, the American Association for Justice and the Florida Justice Association. He has received numerous awards in acknowledgment of his work, including the National Urban League’s Whitney Young Award and the NAACP Thurgood Marshall Award.
In his discussion, Crump talked about the racial prejudice in the justice system and in police officers. He discussed police shootings and the wrongful actions that police officers took in the Breonna Taylor and George Floyd cases. In a call to action, Crump emphasized that talking to elected officials and leaders about injustices along with correcting and punishing bad police officers is essential.
Crump explained what sparked his passion for civil rights and social justice at a young age. In Lumberton, North Carolina, at only 9 years old, Crump realized the racial divide in his community when a white girl brought a $100 bill and bought lunch for multiple people for one day. Crump said that his mother was working two jobs at the time and it would have taken her about a week to earn around $100.
He also noticed the stark difference in his community compared to the neighborhoods near school.
“I knew that when I grew up I wanted to be like Thurgood Marshall,” Crump stated. “I wanted to help my community and make the people who are like me have a better opportunity of the American dream and obtaining equality and justice.”
Crump stressed that starting a dialogue with friends, co-workers, classmates, etc. is vital when advocating for social justice and change. Bringing up issues at the dinner table or in class will help facilitate and normalize these important conversations. He also pointed out that there is power in being educated, especially as a UW-Madison student or alumni. Crump believes that students must use their education and influence to help the next generation and the current one to respect diversity.
Since 1987, the Wisconsin Union Directorate Distinguished Lecture Series (DLS) has strived to broaden the education of UW-Madison students and community members by bringing influential speakers, like Benjamin Crump, to campus.
According to the DLS website, “Through DLS-sponsored lectures and collaborations, we strive to achieve our mission of seeking and spreading powerful ideas, while also allowing the passionate and dedicated students on our committee to be exposed to diverse and vibrant array of people, backgrounds, and ideas.”