Helen Crump (left), Benjamin Crump’s mother, along with his daughter, Brooklyn Zeta Crump, his wife Genae Angelique Crump, and Attorney Crump at the podium. St. Thomas University, a Catholic institution in Miami Gardens, Fla., officially named their law school after civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump. (Photo by Patricia McDougall)

By Deborah Bailey,
AFRO Contributing Editor

Ben Crump recently became the only practicing Black attorney to have a law school named after him when Miami’s St. Thomas University (STU) named its law school in his honor this month.  

STU President David A. Armstrong reflected on the common values the institution shared with the civil rights attorney as the reason the law school has been renamed the Benjamin L. Crump College of Law. 

“Ben and I couldn’t be more different politically, but we share a passion for justice, and the hope that by working together, we can continue to drive meaningful change,” Armstrong said. 

He continued: “Our faith in God, and our belief in the tenets laid out by our founding fathers in the U.S. Constitution, enable us to go beyond race and politics, and focus on the work necessary to truly make the United States the home of the free and the brave.” 

The STU naming ceremony was held on Feb. 7 at the law school campus. Crump, who lives in Tallahassee, Fla., expressed his hope that the institution bearing his name would produce attorneys who will continue the fight for justice in America.

“We have come such a long way in the journey to equality, but we are not there yet,” Crump said. “The future change makers and civil justice leaders that will matriculate from St.Thomas will soon be passed the torch from today’s civil rights icons, and I have every confidence that they will meet the moment.” 

Only one other law school is named after a Black attorney. The Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University is named after the civil rights attorney and chief legal counsel for the NAACP, who became the first African American to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Texas Southern, a historically Black university, renamed their school of law in honor of Marshall in 1978, 11 years after he was named a Supreme Court Justice. Marshall died in 1993 and according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, “before his funeral, his flag-draped casket was laid in state in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court. He was only the second justice to be given this honor.”

According to the American Bar Association, African Americans continue to be under-represented in legal education. Only 8 percent of the nation’s law students are African American. 

The STU law school was ranked first in “Greatest Resources for Minority Students” in the 2022 Princeton Review Best Law Schools’ rankings. Pre Law Magazine in 2022 rated the law school among the top-10 Best Schools for Racial Justice in the United States. In 2020, it was rated by Princeton Review in the top-10 for Greatest Resources for Women, and for Most Diverse Faculty. The university’s website describes STU as one of the country’s most diverse law schools.

Crump is the founder and president of Ben Crump Law, which has offices across the United States. In 25 years of practicing civil rights and personal injury law, Crump has become recognized for his representation of the families of victims of police brutality or other highly publicized incidents, including George Floyd, Jacob Blake, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, and most recently, Tyre Nichols, among many others. 

Crump also represents the family of Henrietta Lacks and is the attorney for the National Council of Negro Women’s lawsuit on behalf of black women ovarian cancer victims.