Ben Crump Delivers Thunderous Acceptance Speech At 2023 NAACP Image Awards

Benjamin Crump accepted the Social Justice Impact Award during the 2023 NAACP Awards on Saturday night (Feb. 25). The celebration, which took place at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in California, saw the 53-year-old civil rights attorney take the podium to accept his honor and give a call to action against discrimination and injustice everywhere.

The fiery speech called out the state of Florida’s barring students from learning about Black Americans’ rich history, culture, and lineage through AP African American Studies courses.

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“So what (students are) really asking for when they asked for this class is the tools that the field of African American Studies gives them, which is this picture of how different communities are interrelated,” Brandi Waters, AP African American Studies’ senior director, said. “A diversity of lived experience and feeling like they now have more lenses through which to view American life and how disparate communities in America are connected to the broader world.”

And Crump’s speech followed suit, demanding the audience pay attention to the silencing of Black history and vowing to stay determined to protect our community.

“I accept this award as greater motivation to continue to be an unapologetic defender of Black life, Black liberty, and Black humanity. 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.”

“And now that they are trying to ban our most celebrated Black authors and AP African-American Studies,” Crump continued. “We must advocate for our children and our culture in the classrooms and demand that they acknowledge that the teaching of Black history matters. Harriet Tubman matters. Frederick Douglas matters. Ida B. Wells matters. Thurgood Marshall matters. Dr. King matters. Rosa Parks matters. Malcolm X matters. Charlie Chisholm, John Lewis. They were not mere footnotes in the history books. They were the heroes.”

Benjamin continued, giving an evident caution to what can happen if Black history is erased from the United States and beyond. The attorney concluded his triumphant speech with a plea to Black Americans not to let our past, present and future leaders be forgotten.

Ben Crump and Angela Bassett with NAACP Awards
Honoree Benjamin Crump, recipient of the Social Justice Impact Award and Angela Bassett, winner of the Entertainer of the Year award and Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series award for “9-1-1,” pose in the press room during the 54th NAACP Image Awards at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 25, 2023 in Pasadena, California.

“And as Carter G. Woodson prophetically warned, “If a race has no history, if it has no traditions that are respected and taught to the young people, then it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world and thus in danger of becoming exterminated.” We will not let elected officials exterminate our history, our literature, or our 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. And all of our children must know that their culture contributed to the progress and the history of the United States of America.

“Because if we don’t fight for our children’s future, we can’t expect anybody else to fight for our children’s future. And we as a people care to fight for our children’s future until hell freeze’s over. And then we have to be ready to fight on the ice.”

Watch his stirring speech above.

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