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Episode 121 — Ben Crump — Speaking Truth to Power: The Fight for Social Justice in America

"Black, white, brown — it doesn't matter. You show up for what's right. Even when it's controversial or unpopular. Even when it's dangerous. Speak truth to power.” - Ben Crump

  • How is Ben Crump working to fix a broken criminal justice system?
  • Does bringing awareness and attention to a problem exacerbate the very issue he is trying to solve?
  • How does he remain optimistic when one in five black men is convicted?
  • In the face of death threats, how does he press on with such important work?
  • What can attorneys who wish to drive real change do, beyond posting on social media?
  • What is it like being one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People?

Attention and Advocacy

Equal access to justice. Fair treatment. Hope for the future. Every American deserves these basic rights. Yet the number of Blacks and Hispanics convicted of felonies remains wildly disproportionate to that of their white counterparts. The criminal justice system, plagued by discrimination, implicit bias, and racism, requires a strong salve of tireless activism and unwavering optimism.

Legendary national civil rights attorney Ben Crump draws optimism from one source over the rest: the precedent of Black Americans who have overcome, from the middle passage and slavery through Jim Crow and excessive police force.

"Based on the precedent of black people in America, Whatever the enemies of equality throw at us, we're going to overcome it. We're going to be alright." - Ben Crump

Often heralded as Black America's Attorney General, Attorney Ben Crump is listed amongst the Most Influential People of 2021 by TIME Magazine, Ebony Magazine’s Power 100 Most Influential African Americans, The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Lawyers, and the 2014 NNPA Newsmaker of the Year. In high-profile civil rights cases, he has represented the families of Henrietta Lacks, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, among others. Also the President of the National Civil Rights Trial Lawyers Association, he reached a $641 MM settlement for the residents of Flint, Michigan.

Show Up

There is no nobler thing than to fight for the equity of your children. The price is often high, and the opposition is deadly. But in the matter of life and death in America, this is what it takes. Showing up. Speaking out. Leveraging the education and power you have to build a more equal America.

Key Takeaways:

  • Take someone with you. Mentor someone who looks nothing like you, someone from a different background. Support scholarship funds to help trial lawyers become more diverse. There are always things you can do.
  • Remain optimistic. There is always hope and possibility, even in the face of staggering statistics. Attorneys can build a better world — a better America — for generations to come.
  • Embrace the struggle.  Pressure is what makes coal into diamonds and makes engines run. A necessary element of progress, the struggle should not be shied away from.

Links and Resources

Author

Michael Mogill, Crisp, and Ben Crump