St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida, has named its law school after Ben Crump, a black lawyer involved in some of the most controversial cases involving police in recent history.
University officials joined Crump to christen St. Thomas’ Benjamin L. Crump College of Law on Wednesday in a ceremony at the law school. Crump, a well-known civil rights and personal injury attorney, has participated in numerous high-profile cases, including representing the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.
“We have come such a long way in the journey to equality, but we are not there yet,” Crump said, according to the Miami Herald. “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.”
Movie star Will Smith, a friend of Crump’s, was also in attendance.
“There are very few people in the world with a heart like this,” Smith said. “So, it is with my deepest honor and pleasure to be here to support, show love and give congratulations on this historic honor.”
The naming comes as a consequence of an agreement between Crump and the university. St. Thomas agreed to name its law school after Crump after a fundraising goal of $10 million was reached for the Benjamin L. Crump Center for Social Justice, which is housed in the law school.
“The Center will create innovative curriculum, develop implicit bias training and policies, and curate programmatic instruction modules and symposia that advance its goals,” the center’s website says.
The Crump law school is the second law school in the United States named after an African American and the first law school named after a living black attorney. The first law school named after an African America is that of Texas Southern University. The Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern is named after the first black Supreme Court justice.
Crump has gained national profile representing clients in high-profile civil rights and injury cases. Crump’s most recent high-profile case is representing the family of Tyre Nichols, a black man allegedly beaten to death by a group of black police officers in Memphis, Tennessee.
Crump has insisted that Nichols’ death is related to police prejudice against black Americans despite the officers charged in relation to the incident being black themselves.
“We have an opportunity here, America, to really speak to this institutionalized police culture and show that it is not just about white officers or Black officers or Hispanic officers,” Crump said last month after murder charges were filed in the case. “It’s about police officers having this biased belief that you can get away with doing certain things to Black citizens and brown citizens in America that you cannot get away with white citizens.”