February 28, 2024

Civil Rights Titan Ben Crump Honors MLK’s Legacy in Stirring Lecture at Lewis & Clark

In an inspiring Martin Luther King Jr. Endowed Lecture, civil rights attorney Ben Crump captivated attendees with his passionate discourse on justice, equality, and the enduring influence of Dr. King’s legacy, reinforcing the vital role of legal advocacy in the ongoing struggle for civil rights.

On February 20th, Lewis & Clark’s Agnes Flanagan Chapel was the epicenter of an inspiring dialogue on civil rights, social justice, and the enduring legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as Ben Crump, a preeminent figure in the fight for justice, delivered the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Endowed Lecture for the law school.

Transcript of lecture here.

Crump, whose legal acumen and relentless advocacy have earned him the moniker “Black America’s Attorney General,” shared the stage with Lewis & Clark Law School Jordan D. Schnitzer Professor of Law Professor Robert Klonoff. The two engaged in an insightful Q/A session that illuminated the challenges and triumphs of the ongoing struggle for equality and justice in America. The partnership between Crump and Klonoff, particularly their collaboration in litigating on behalf of Henrietta Lacks’ family, underscored the evening’s themes of perseverance and legal accountability.

The lecture series, made possible by the generosity of alumni Jacqueline Alexander ’07 and Lee Matthews ’73, aims to keep Dr. King’s spirit alive by inviting speakers who embody his ideals and who work tirelessly towards fulfilling his dream of a just society. Ben Crump, with his impressive track record of advocating for the marginalized and his instrumental role in landmark legal battles, was a fitting torchbearer for this mission.

Crump’s lecture was not just a recounting of his legal battles; it was a clarion call for continued vigilance and action against injustice. He detailed his involvement in high-profile cases such as those of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and George Floyd, highlighting the systemic issues that perpetuate inequality and violence against African Americans. Moreover, Crump’s efforts beyond the courtroom, including his push for legislation to prevent excessive force and develop implicit bias training, were powerful reminders of the multifaceted approach needed to combat systemic racism.

The attorney’s deep connection to the struggles of the Black community, his achievements in securing justice for victims of discrimination and brutality, and his unwavering commitment to Dr. King’s vision were palpable throughout the lecture. Crump’s narrative was a blend of personal anecdotes, legal expertise, and a profound understanding of the historical and current social landscape.

As the evening concluded, the impact of Crump’s words lingered in the air, inspiring students, faculty, and community members alike. The lecture served not only as a tribute to Dr. King but also as a roadmap for the ongoing journey toward equality and justice. Ben Crump’s presence at Lewis & Clark College reaffirmed the power of legal advocacy in the fight for civil rights and challenged law students:. “But what we are doing, brothers and sisters, more than anything else, we’re helping America, be America, for all Americans. And that is the goal. That is how we give our children a better world, a better America, by making the Constitution real for them too. I know you’re going to do it, Lewis and Clark students. I have all the faith in the world.”