Warrior for Justice: The Footprint of Attorney Benjamin Crump
“Home is where the heart is, and my heart is in Tallahassee.”
Tallahassee is at the seat of the Civil Rights Movement and Black culture today. It hosts a legacy of heroic figures who have made strides to demand equal rights. Here is a look at one of Tallahassee’s most elite leaders and changemakers, whose impact on history has sculpted the future of Tallahassee – and the nation. Celebrate his legacy by visiting his favorite attractions and historic monuments associated with Black culture, and getting involved in educational programs and special events that celebrate Black History during the month of February and every day year round.
The iconic Benjamin Crump is an undisputed leader for racial equality and a renowned trial lawyer for justice. With over 25 years of experience practicing law, Crump has won over 200 cases related to police brutality, including his plea for justice for individuals impacted by the Flint, Michigan water crisis, the deaths of George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and unfortunately, many more victims whose names are etched in our memories. While Attorney Crump has become one of the most well recognized names and faces in civil rights—to the city of Tallahassee, he is a beloved local, a Seminole at heart, and a man uninterrupted in his pursuit of justice for all. We took a moment to sit down with this iconic figure to find out why the man coined Black America’s Attorney General decided to make Tallahassee his home and uncover his favorite aspects of the city.
What brought you to Florida’s Capital City?
“I moved to Tallahassee after high school and attended Florida State University (FSU) where I earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a Juris Doctor from the FSU College of Law. I decided to stay in the area after graduation to serve the local community and further my vision for racial equality by working as a civil rights attorney.”
Why do you continue to call Tallahassee home?
“The Tallahassee landscape offers unique traits that add to individuals’ propensity for success. When I graduated from law school, I knew that Tallahassee was a good community, but I don’t think I fully understood the scope of how blessed I was to be here, particularly the mentorship I received from numerous individuals who taught me lessons that could not be learned by affiliation or within the confines of the classroom. Tallahassee is ranked as one of the most educated cities in America, it has a high percentage of diversity, it’s culturally inclusive and the colleges breed a sense of optimism, hope and potential.
When reflecting back on the timeframe that my former partner, Daryl Parks, and I opened our first practice, and the trajectory our careers have taken since then, Tallahassee has always been in our corner. The spirit of this town, the people, the endless possibilities of what life could bring and what we could bring to it, supplied the wind beneath our wings. As we continued to ascend in our careers, it was always Tallahassee propelling us to the next level. That is why I love Tallahassee, and to me—that is why it will always be home.”
What are your favorite aspects of the city?
“In light of my success in my profession, I choose to live on the south side of Tallahassee with my wife, Dr. Genae Crump and daughter, Brooklyn. I love the balance that the city has to offer, but I am relentless about my southside pride. One of the greatest features Tallahassee has to offer is that it has everything you need to raise a family.
We have so many events and attractions year-round, from FSU and FAMU’s homecoming to FSU’s Unconquered statue and FAMU’s Eternal Flame. We are home to the first historic Black neighborhood in the panhandle—Smokey Hollow, which is where Cascades Park now sits and was the former home of Wally Amos, founder of ‘Famous Amos’ cookies. We have jewels in The John Gilmore Riley Center & Museum for African American History & Culture, the Florida A&M University Meek-Eaton Black Archives Research Center & Museum, and the Knott House Museum where the Emancipation Proclamation is read every year. You can be in Tallahassee and get a generous amount of culture on any given day.”
What are your favorite local restaurants?
“I’m a finnicky eater, but I have some favorite places to dine, especially with my family. Brooklyn and I enjoy the extra effects of sparkle and fire when we dine out, so we enjoy eating hibachi from our favorite restaurant, Osaka Japanese Hibachi Steakhouse & Sushi Bar. We also enjoy The Edison and some of my favorite spots on the south side like Earley’s Kitchen and Olean’s Café—which could compete up against any other as the best soul food restaurant in the world.”
How does Tallahassee preserve the history of Civil Rights and progressive movement in Florida?
“Since its original founding in 1870, my church-home, Bethel Missionary Baptist Church and then pastor, Reverend C.K. Steele gave heroic and significant leadership to the Civil Rights Movement. In the 1950s and 1960s, Steele and the congregation spoke out against disparities and took a leading role in organizing and activism. Steele was a friend to Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis, and Andrew Young. He participated in the Tallahassee Bus Boycott, The March from Selma to Montgomery, numerous sit-ins and has a statue that stands near the Greyhound Bus Depot. Since 1986, Bethel has been under the pastoral leadership of my longtime friend and clergyman, Rev. Dr. RB Holmes, Jr.
If it wasn’t for the Black history that happened right here in Tallahassee, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Carrie Patterson, Wilhelmina Jakes, and Arthenia Joyner were arrested as FAMU students for refusing to give up their seats during the bus boycott. Joyner went on to become the first Black female Senate Democratic leader. Fred and Doby Flowers were the first Black students to attend FSU, and they didn’t just integrate without forward action—FSU became the first university in the south to have Black fraternities, sororities, and athletes.
The city of Tallahassee embodies Southern hospitality, resilience and progress. Its progressive character combined with its civil rights legacy creates a city determined to honor the past as it builds the future for generations to come. As Attorney Benjamin Crump said, “Young people will have a better or worse world because of our actions or inactions. Our legacy is one that we must always let our children know that we will speak up, stand up, and fight for their future so that the next generation has an equal opportunity at the American promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
To learn more about Attorney Benjamin Crump and Tallahassee’s Black history, please click here.