Law Schools

Law school named in honor of Black attorney in what may be second time in history

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Benjamin Crump

Attorney Benjamin Crump is the new namesake for the law school at St. Thomas University. Photo by Jeff Roberson/The Associated Press.

The Florida St. Thomas University College of Law recently announced that it would be adding Benjamin L. Crump to its title in recognition of the Black civil rights lawyer.

The school is now known as the Benjamin L. Crump College of Law at St. Thomas University. Crump, who has offices in California, Florida and Washington, D.C., according to his website, graduated from the Florida State University College of Law.

Crump’s clients include the families of Michael Brown, Stephon Clark, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, all of whom were Black people killed by law enforcement.

“We have come such a long way in the journey to equality, but we are not there yet. The future changemakers 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,” Crump said in a Feb. 4 news release.

Also at the law school is the Benjamin L. Crump Center for Social Justice, which focuses on implicit bias training and policies and providing scholarship funds to law students from diverse backgrounds. The center was announced in 2021, according to Crump’s website.

A spokesperson for Florida St. Thomas University told the ABA Journal that Crump and his law firm donated $1 million to the law school. Other donors included the Truist Foundation, the Black Promoters Collective, actor Will Smith, Bishop T.D. Jakes and Tony Romanucci, a Chicago lawyer who was co-counsel with Crump on Floyd’s case.

Ben crump law school name Photo courtesy of Florida St. Thomas University.

Carla Pratt, a founding member of the Association of American Law Schools’ Law Deans Antiracist Clearinghouse Project, said Florida St. Thomas University is the second law school to be named in honor of a Black person. The other is Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law.

“Mr. Crump embodies the best of our profession, so I am thrilled to see St. Thomas honor his important work in this way,” wrote Pratt in an email to the Journal.

The former dean of Washburn University School of Law who now is a professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law, Pratt is also on the council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

She and other founding members of the Law Deans Antiracist Clearinghouse Project credit Tamara Lawson, who was the law dean at Florida St. Thomas University and is now the dean of the University of Washington School of Law, with planning the Crump naming rights.

“I grew up on the campus of Thurgood Marshall School of Law, so I know the symbolic power of experiencing a law school named after a Black attorney who fights for justice for all. Former St. Thomas dean Tamara Lawson understood what it would mean to aspiring lawyers around the state of Florida to have a law school named in honor of someone who reflects the best values in our profession,” wrote Danielle Holley, the dean of the Howard University School of Law, in an email to the Journal.

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