NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A prominent civil rights attorney says that those who see injustice and do nothing help to promote abuse.
Benjamin Crump, the Florida lawyer who represented families in police shooting cases that made headlines around the world, was the keynote speaker Oct. 31 at the 25th anniversary gala for the National Association of African American Honors Programs held at Tennessee State University.
The gala was the culmination of the three-day annual conference of the NAAAHP.
More than 400 of the nation’s best and brightest students attended the event, as well as representatives from 31 historically black colleges and universities. There were also 40 top graduate schools, including Ivy League schools such as Harvard, and companies from across the country.
“You are the fortunate ones,” Crump told the students, reminding them that as future leaders and educators they have a “moral” obligation to help stem out injustices in their communities.
“You’re the ones who are going to have the good jobs, you are going to have the education, you have the talent, and if you don’t speak up for our community, if you don’t stand up for our community, if you don’t fight for our community, then who will,” Crump said.
Crump – the attorney in the Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Terence Crutcher police shooting cases – is the president of the National Bar Association, the largest organization of lawyers of color in the world, representing over 60,000 black lawyers, judges, and legal professionals. He has received numerous awards, including the SCLC Martin Luther King Servant Leader Award, and the NAACP Thurgood Marshall Award. Ebony Magazine has recognized him as one of the Top 100 trial lawyers.
TSU President Glenda Glover described Crump as “definitely one of America’s best lawyers,” who “speaks truth to power.”
“My friend, the world renowned Mr. Crump, we are extremely elated and honored to have you with us on our campus,” Glover said. “We thank you for the words of inspiration not just to these students but to all of us in our quest for justice and equal treatment.”
According to Crump’s official website, his goal is not only to raise people’s consciousness about injustices in the community, but also to fight to preserve the justice that minorities have achieved throughout the civil rights era. And that has struck a chord with many students.
“The message that when you see something, do something is one that I take great pride in,” said Dexter A. Hooks, a TSU honor student majoring in business administration with concentrations in supply chain and human resource management. “Whether it is as a student, in the classroom or anywhere, we all have a moral obligation to help fight injustice when we see it.”
Dalyla Jordan, a Lincoln University sophomore honors students majoring in psychology, agrees.
“It is very important to talk about injustice around HBCUs because these institutions have to deal with it and talk about it daily,” Jordan said. “It takes courage and confidence and I am glad Mr. Crump is bringing this topic home.”
Dr. Coreen Jackson, outgoing president of NAAAHP and interim dean of TSU’s Honors College, thanked Crump for inspiring the students. She also thanked President Glover for her support in hosting the gala. Jackson said the conference achieved its goal of commemorating the vital role NAAAHP has played in supporting honors education for more than 20 years.
President Glover, accompanied by Jackson, presented Crump with a special award in recognition of his work for justice across the nation and the world. Special awards were also presented to founding members and institutions for their support.
The NAAAHP conference also attracted major corporate sponsors such as Kroger, as a Premier Platinum Sponsor, which for the second consecutive year, invested more than $30,000.
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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.