Civil rights attorney has inspiring message at NAACP Conference

Benjamin L Crump, founder of Tallahassee, Florida based Ben Crump Law was the keynote speaker at the NAACP Delaware State Conference held Saturday. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

DOVER — It was an inspirational call to action to fight for justice delivered by a passionate and nationally prominent civil rights attorney.

Benjamin Crump’s plea to educate the younger generation on how to best move society forward clearly reached his intended target Saturday afternoon at Delaware State University.

After listening with rapt attention for 30 minutes, the audience responded with a rousing round of applause and standing ovation.

The Delaware National Association for the Advancement of Colored People State Conference was the scene of the keynote message. Mr. Crump spoke Friday night in Florida, flew to Washington, D.C. and departed for Delaware at 6 a.m. Saturday.

Speaking of the “racism, the discrimination embedded in institutions of governance in America,” Mr. Crump said “Our children are relying on us to speak Truth to Power.”

Benjamin L Crump, founder of Tallahassee, Florida based Ben Crump Law was the keynote speaker at the NAACP Delaware State Conference held Saturday. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

It’s an important conversation to have in America, said Mr. Crump, whose book “Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People” spells out a far more detailed version of his vision for calling out a “racist criminal justice system …”

Mr. Crump pointed to statistics indicating 1 in 5 black males are convicted felons, which he said will rise to 1 in 3 in the next 20 years if current trends continue.

Felony convictions not only erase the ability to vote, serve on a jury or in the military, but establishes severe roadblocks to earning an education, gaining employment, providing for a family and more upon release from incarceration, Mr. Crump said.

Senator Chris Coons speaking to the crowd attending the NAACP Delaware State Conference Saturday. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

To push back against the tide Mr. Crump said, “We have to make sure our children are more intelligent than their oppressors … This is not a game of checkers, it’s a game of chess.”

NAACP Connecticut State President Scot X. Esdaile called Mr. Crump the nation’s premier civil rights attorney, the Thurgood Marshall, the Johnnie Cochran of his time.

Among Mr. Crump’s high-profile cases were representing the family of Trayvon Martin, killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida in 2012 and Michael Brown, fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014.

Impacting Delaware

Making his eighth trip to the First State, Mr. Esdaile referenced the more than 140 attendees Saturday and said, “We’re back.”

The goal is continue to increasing NAACP’s impact on Delaware, which consists of nine adult branches (including two Correctional Facilities chapters), two college chapters and seven active Youth Councils throughout Kent, Sussex and New Castle counties.

“Delaware you are looking good,” Mr. Esdaile said enthusiastically just prior to Mr. Crump’s remarks. “Give yourself a round of applause, the room is full.”

Mr. Esdaile noted the significance of U.S. Sen. Chris Coons’ attendance, along with Gov. John Carney and Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long.

Sen. Coons spoke of voting rights issues, including the Supreme Court’s rollback of progress based on the Shelby County versus Holder case decision; contesting it continues, he said. Also in play at the federal and state level is supporting the Crown Act that protects discrimination based on hairstyle, he said.

In a letter to Delaware published in the conference program, NAACP National Board of Directors Chairman Leon W. Russell implored attendees “enroll and register new voters” and to “Please take this time to motivate and challenge one another in our civil and human rights work.

“Yes, we are in difficult and divisive times, when many efforts abound to turn back the clock to erase essential, important progress. However, the NAACP does not succumb to discriminatory methods.

“We fight and we win. …”