By Morgan State U
(BALTIMORE – April 6, 2023) – Morgan State University President David K. Wilson announced today that Benjamin Crump, nationally recognized civil rights attorney and advocate for social justice, will be the keynote speaker at Morgan’s 146th Spring Commencement Exercises. Most notably recognized as an outspoken champion for legislative reforms in preventing excessive police force, Crump has represented many families in several high-profile civil rights cases in which the victims were killed or assaulted by police officers. He will deliver remarks to graduates, faculty, University leaders, and guests during the ceremony scheduled to take place at Hughes Memorial Stadium on Saturday, May 20, beginning at 10:00 a.m.
“Mr. Crump’s passion for addressing injustices committed against marginalized communities and his unrelenting work to hold those responsible accountable, is the type of tenacity we hope will inspire our graduates and current students,” said President Wilson. “While academic and professional success is noteworthy, we want our graduates to recognize that in the fullness of life, public service and heeding the call of social responsibility is as equally important to an individual’s character.”
Over the years, Crump has used his legal expertise to win groundbreaking verdicts and reach historic settlements in cases involving police brutality, environmental injustice, and civil rights violations. At a time when tensions between law enforcement and communities across America were heightened, he represented the families of Trayvon Martin, a Sanford, Florida teen slain by a neighborhood watch volunteer; and Michael Brown, a young Black male unlawfully killed by a law enforcement officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
Most recently, Crump’s advocacy for social justice has led him to represent the families of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd whose individual accounts helped shape the Social Justice Movement that swept the nation—and the world—in 2020. The residents of Flint, Michigan who were affected by the poisoned water of Flint River, and the family of Henrietta Lacks receiving reparations from the vast industries that benefited from using her HeLa cell line illegitimately harvested for medical research. Crump also represented 9 of the 13 Black women who were victims in the Holtzclaw Oklahoma City Police rape case in 2015 and worked with Robbie Tolan on his precedent-setting U.S. Supreme Court case involving excessive police force in 2008. As a staunch advocate against police brutality and civil rights abuse, he has been instrumental in drawing national attention to these cases and leading discussions about reforms, and developing implicit bias training and policies.
“I’m thrilled to be delivering the commencement address to the Spring 2023 class at Morgan State University. The students at this great HBCU represent the very best of what we have to offer for the future,” said Mr. Crump. “I look forward to articulating to them ways to make the world a better place for all of God’s children.”
Crump is a graduate of Florida State University and received his law degree from FSU College of Law. He was the first African American to chair the Florida State University College of Law Board of Directors and is director of the Benjamin Crump Social Justice Institute, a nonprofit designed to address the social issues that disproportionately impact our most vulnerable citizens. He is listed among Time Magazine’s “Most Influential People of 2021” and Ebony Magazine’s “Power 100 Most Influential African Americans.” Attorney Crump is the founder and principal owner of Ben Crump Law and is recognized among the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Lawyers, and the 2014 NNPA Newsmaker of the Year.
During the 2023 Spring Commencement ceremony, Morgan will also bestow an honorary degree to Ruthe T. Sheffey, Ph.D., the longest continuously serving professor in Morgan’s 156-year history. As a distinguished alumna, scholar, and master teacher who studied, taught, and worked at Morgan’s Department of English and Language Arts for more than half a century, Dr. Sheffey set the standard for excellence in teaching, scholarship, and in service to the profession. Dr. Sheffey graduated from Morgan in 1947 and returned to the University in 1949 to begin her decades-long career as an educator. During her 62 years as an instructor, she developed curriculum, led the Morgan State University Press for more than 20 years, and made generous donations to Morgan’s Capital Campaign. She was also the Department’s expert on Shakespeare and a pioneer at the forefront of feminist scholarship in America, holding the first major national conference on Zora Neale Hurston and founding the Zora Neale Hurston Society in 1984.
In 2014, she established the annual Ruthe T. Sheffey Lecture in African-American Female Studies to preserve and enrich the learning environment by bringing notable African-American female scholars to campus annually, during Women’s History Month to present lectures focusing on the African-American literary tradition and the role it has played in the lives of African Americans.
Morgan will host its Graduate School Spring Commencement on Thursday, May 18, and its undergraduate Spring Commencement on May 20. For more information about Morgan’s Spring Commencement Exercises visit the official commencement site online.
Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie-classified high research (R2) institution offering more than 140 academic programs leading to degrees from the baccalaureate to the doctorate. As Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University, and the only university to have its entire campus designated as a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Morgan serves a multiethnic and multiracial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information about Morgan State University, visit www.morgan.edu.