MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – St. Thomas University’s College of Law now bears the name of a prominent civil rights attorney.
As part of Black History Month, the school unveiled Benjamin L. Crump College of Law at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens during a packed ceremony honoring Crump for his tireless work in the legal community.
Hollywood mega star Will Smith was on hand for the occasion along with Crump’s family members, colleagues and families he has represented in high proﬁle cases for wrongful death lawsuits, police brutality and victims who died in the custody of law enforcement ofﬁcers including George Floyd and most recently Tyree Nichols.
Crump is the second Black man to have a law school renamed after him; Texas Southern University named its law school after former U.S. Supreme Court Justice and civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall.
“I am the most blessed man on the face of the earth today,” Crump said. I’m humbled to play a role in giving the future lawyers something to bring to the table: a legal education. Thank you St. Thomas University for helping bring this opportunity to our nation’s future changemakers."
Smith said Crump is a good friend who isn’t afraid to take on high proﬁle civil rights cases.
“Ben has been an absolutely spectacular friend and guide, and that’s why it was important for me to be here with him today,” said Smith.
Crump, 53, said Marshall was an icon who paved the way for Black civil rights lawyers like himself.
“We have to make the law matter for all of us, the least of us. If the law doesn’t protect the least of us then it doesn’t protect any of us,” said Crump. “We together, brothers and sisters, have to make it equal justice under the law.”
Crump, who was born in North Carolina, spent most of his childhood in Plantation, in Broward County.
He graduated from Florida State University and earned his law degree from FSU College of Law.
Crump was thrust in the spotlight while taking on some of the most racially-motivated and police brutality cases in the nation.
Crump ﬁrst gained national prominence in 2002 when he represented the family of Genie McMeans, a Black driver who was shot and killed by a White state trooper in Florida, and was the attorney for Martin Lee Anderson’s family.
Anderson was a Black teenager who died after allegedly being beaten by guards in a Florida youth detention center in 2006.
In 2012, Crump represented the family of Trayvon Martin, a Black teenager who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla.
Martin lived in Miami Gardens but was sent to live with his father in the Central Florida city after he was suspended from school.
Zimmerman claimed self defense under Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law and a jury acquitted him of second degree murder.
Crump was the catalyst for getting prosecutors to press charges against Palm Beach Gardens ofﬁcer Nouman Raja, who was off-duty when he shot and killed musician Corey Jones in 2015, after Jones’ car broke down on a highway.
Raja was sentenced to 25 years in prison over the incident, the ﬁrst time in almost 30 years that a Florida police ofﬁcer was sentenced for an on-duty shooting.
Crump also represented Ronald Weekely in 2012 when the 20-year Black man who was skateboarding was allegedly beaten by police in California.
Perhaps Crumps’ most high proﬁle case was representing Floyd’s family in a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Minneapolis after he died in police custody in 2020, and the family of Nichos who was severely beaten by Memphis police in January.
Floyd’s family received a large settlement from the city in the wrongful death lawsuit.
In the Nichos’ case, Police body cam captured the brutal beating and he died days later in the hospital after succumbing to his injuries.
Five ofﬁcers were charged with second degree murder in Nichols’ death and Minneapolis police ofﬁcer Derek Chauvin was convicted on charges of second-degree and abetting seconddegree manslaughter in the death of Floyd.
Floyd and Nichols’ cases sparked national outrage and protests calling for the ofﬁcers’ arrest on murder charges and Congress to pass legislation for police reform.
Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother, praised Crump for his work and dedication to helping families impacted by social injustice and police brutality.
“Salute him and let him know that I’m proud of him for the work that he not only did for the Trayvon Martin Foundation, but that he did for so many other families,” said Fulton.
Philonese Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, also paid tribute to Crump. “You have to come and support good people, because we’re stronger in numbers, so we all stick together," Floyd said.
St. Thomas University president David Armstrong said the occasion marked an historic day for the university and the Black community.
"Especially for advancing the goal of ensuring more Black men are trained to become lawyers at the newly renamed school," he said.
During the event, donations for renaming the law school after Crump were announced.
The Black Promoters Collective, a live music promoters group, gave a donation of $1 million, and Ben Crump Law, Crump’s ﬁrm, donated $1 million as well.
An anonymous donor gave $1.5 million to the school.