Benjamin Crump is an attorney known for his involvement in a number of high-profile civil rights cases, like those of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager who was shot by a neighborhood watch captain in 2012, and Michael Brown, who was killed by a Missouri Police officer in 2014.
Tonight, Crump will be featured on an all-new episode of FOX’s new reality series, You the Jury, which asks viewers to serve as trial jurors in some important civil cases.
Read on to learn more about the 47-year-old attorney.
1. He Is Known for His Association With the George Zimmerman Case
Crump gained national attention after becoming the lawyer for the parents of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was killed by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman.
Crump received a call from Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin just two days after their son had been shot, but did not accept the case immediately. He was referred by two lawyers to Martin’s case, and said he would consider taking it on if Zimmerman was arrested. In an interview with BET, Crump said:
“I just knew the police would arrest him based on what we knew about the case. But by the end of that week, he wasn’t arrested. It became clear that this was an outrage and the family needed legal representation.”
He later added on, “I spoke with Trayvon’s father and I heard the sadness in his voice. I knew I had to get involved.” Crump worked hard to make Trayvon’s story international news– his efforts sparked multiple marches and rallies across the country, and even received comment from President Barack Obama. “When you have the president commenting on the matter and you have celebrities and politicians wearing their hoodies as a symbol of the cause that you’re representing, and it has taken over the world’s attention, this is overwhelming in a sense,” News One reports him as saying.
2. He Represented the Family of Alesia Thomas
Crump has been involved in a number of cases with civil rights implications, and represented the family Alesia Thomas, who died in police custody in 2012.
On July 22, 2012, police offers responded to claims that Thomas had abandoned her children at a local police station. After arriving at the scene and placing her in the patrol car, Thomas, who suffered from bipolar disorder, was kicked in the stomach and groin area by a policewoman named Mary O’Callaghan. She then lost consciousness. Thomas was later pronounced dead at the hospital. The incident was caught on video from a police cruiser camera.
Speaking to the LA Times after taking on the case, Crump said, “This news should reignite our demand that the video be released… The truth is going to come out… Her children, her family and the community should be able to see what happened when Alecia Thomas died in the custody of the LAPD.”
Mary O’Callaghan, the woman responsible for Thomas’ assault, had served with the LAPD for nearly 18 years. She was sentenced to 3 years in jail, with the last 20 months suspended– she could be released within five months with good behavior, according to the LA Times.
3. He Started His Own Firm in 1995
Crump and his partner, Daryl Parks, met in law school at Florida State University, and started their own firm, The Parks & Crump Law Firm, in 1995. According to USA Today, the firm typically takes on cases of personal injury, wrongful death, and medical malpractice. After Crump’s involvement in the Zimmerman case, the company saw an influx of civil rights cases and requests. The firm reportedly gets up to 50 calls and 30 letters a day from people asking for representation in discrimination-related cases.
Crump tells USA Today, “I get so many calls that say, ‘My case is like Trayvon… What they want is Ben Crump to wave a wand and make the justice system work the way it should for every American. Unfortunately, a lot of times, it just doesn’t happen. The tragedy is some of our children are going to be taken from us in unimaginable ways and nobody is going to care.” Crump says he takes about one case for every 50 calls.
4. He’s the Oldest of 9 Siblings
The oldest of nine siblings and step-siblings, Crump was born and raised in Lumberton, North Carolina, by two brothers and a single mother, who worked two jobs as a factory worker and hotel housekeeper.
Speaking to USA Today about starting up his own law firm with Daryl Parks, the attorney said, “What are the chances of two project kids getting out and owning their own law firm? A million to one? We knew we had a huge obligation to give back, because the statistics were that we were never supposed to make it.”
Crump is married to Dr. Genae Angelique Crump, and is the guardian of two adopted cousins, Marcus and Chancellor Crump. He and Angelique have one child together, Brooklyn Zeta Crump.
5. He Has Received a Number of Awards for His Work
Crump has received multiple awards for his legal services. According to he and Daryl’s website, he’s been recognized as one of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Lawyers, Ebony Magazine Power 100 Most Influential African Americans, and bestowed such covenant as the NAACP Thurgood Marshall Award, the SCLC Martin Luther King Servant Leader Award, the National Urban League’s Whitney Young Award, and the AKA’s Eleanor Roosevelt Award.
In 2015, Crump became the 73rd President of the National Bar Association.