2023 NAACP Image Awards: Ben Crump Vows to Fight for Black History 'In and Outside of the Courtrooms'

Ben Crump
Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty Images

The civil rights attorney was honored with the Social Justice Impact Award during Saturday's ceremony.

Civil Rights attorney Benjamin Crump received the Social Justice Impact Award at the 54th NAACP Image Awards Saturday night, and the 53-year-old gave an impassioned speech for Black Americans to fight against politicians "in Florida or any of the other 50 states" trying to erase Black history.

The longtime advocate for families who have lost loved ones to police violence was honored with the award for his efforts in protecting the rights of people on the federal, state and local levels.

"I accept this award as greater motivation to continue to be [an] unapolgetic defender of Black life, Black liberty and Black humanity," Crump said during his acceptance speech. "I promise I will use this Social Justice Award as greater incentive to fight against the legalized genocide of colored people and vow never to stop fighting racism and discrimination when it rears its ugly head."

Addressing Gov. Ron DeSantis' recent moves to block the uncensored teaching of Black history and AP African American history courses in Florida -- which is where Crump's practice is located -- the attorney thanked those who have fought with him to "make liberty and justice for all a reality."

"I will continue to fight in the court of law, in the court of public opinion," Crump said. "And now that they're trying to ban our most celebrated Black authors in AP African American studies, we must advocate for our children and our culture in the classrooms and demand that they acknowledge that the teaching of Black history matters!"

"[We have to] demand that they acknowledge that the teaching of Black history matters," he asserted. "Harriet Tubman matters, Frederick Douglass matters, Ida B. Wells matters, Thurgood Marshall matters, Dr. King matters, Rosa Parks matters, Malcolm X matters, Shirley Chisholm, John Lewis, they were not mere footnotes in the history books - they were the heroes."

Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty Images

Crump, who has represented the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Tyre Nichols, among others, referred to a quote from Carter G. Woodson, vowing not to let elected officials "exterminate" Black history, literature or culture.

"Not in Florida or any of the other 50 states because it is so important that both Black children and white children and all children know that Black history matters because Black history is American history," Crump said. "And all of our children must know that their culture contributed to the progress and the history of the United States of America.

The NAACP Social Impact Award recognizes people who impact civil and social justice. Crump joins journalist Nikole Hannah Jones, who won in 2022, and voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams, who won in 2021.

"And so, in conclusion, as I get ready to rest my case. We are prepared to fight for Black history in and outside of the courtrooms just as hard as we will continue to fight for the George Floyds of the world, for the Breonna Taylors of the world, for the Ahmaud Arberys, for the Trayvon Martins of the world and now, for the Tyre Nichols of the world, and all of our children that have been taken from this Earth far too soon," the attorney concluded his speech.

"We have to stand up for our children's future, we have to speak up for our children's future and we have to fight for our children's future. Because if we don't fight, we can't expect anybody else to fight for our children's futures. We have to be prepared to fight for our children's future until Hell freezes over...and then we have to be ready to fight on the ice."