Miami law school now bears Ben Crump’s name

Ben Crump photo courtesy

Tallahassee civil rights attorney Ben Crump was recently honored when the law school at St. Thomas University was named after Crump.

A ceremony took place last week at St. Thomas University in Miami to officially designate the Benjamin L. Crump College of Law.

The newly renamed college opened its doors Feb. 8. It will be the first law school in the country to be named after a Black practicing attorney.

Crump, the nationally known civil rights lawyer, has defended Ahmaud Arbery’s family as well as the families of Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, and other Black people who were killed by law enforcement throughout the years.

“The name of the Benjamin L. Crump College of Law is the latest move in an attempt to improve bridge-building among the legal profession, law enforcement, and our communities,” said St. Thomas University President David Armstrong in a news release.

Only one other institution, the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University, is named after a Black lawyer out of 199 law schools across the country, according to the American Bar Association.  Marshall was the first African-American justice on the United States Supreme Court. Marshall was killed in a car accident in 1993.

Crump gave the school a $1 million cash gift to aid in the name change. Crump addressed his goal in the naming of the new law school.

“You are investing a chance to participate in a spark of light, a spark that will ignite a shift that will assist in transforming the legal system into one that serves good rather than evil,” Crump said.

Nearly 80% of St. Thomas’ student body in 2022 was made up of people of color. According to the American Bar Association, 7 percent of the student body was Black and two-thirds were Hispanic. Black students made up just 8% of the college’s law school students.

Crump, a native of North Carolina who attended Florida State for undergraduate and law school, resides in Tallahassee.

In 2006, he represented the family of Martin Lee Anderson, a Black adolescent who died after being abused by guards at a Panama City juvenile detention center. This marked the beginning of his civil rights work in earnest. Crump prevailed in a $5 million civil lawsuit against the state.

Will Smith, Jesse Jackson and Tallahassee Pastor R.B. Holmes were present for the ceremony at St. Thomas.

Will Smith assisted with raising $10 million towards attorney Ben Crump’s history-making law school.