How Ben Crump went from living in segregated North Carolina to firebrand civil rights attorney


He’s the firebrand civil rights attorney who has been center stage in the aftermath of a string of racially charged police shootings in America, but Ben Crump’s rise to prominence is a story with humble beginnings.

Indeed, the Florida-based lawyer has become a headline maker in the past year, stirring up public opinion amid a succession of high-profile civil cases involving black victims – and has won multi-million dollar payouts for the families of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

On Tuesday, the 51-year-old stood with the Floyd family at the US Capitol where they posed with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as they commemorated the one-year anniversary of George Floyd‘s death.

He later joined the family a closed-door meeting with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House.  

It’s the culmination of a rather eventful year for Crump, who has taken on 200 police brutality claims in his 25 years of practice, and according to him, ‘we never lose those cases.’ 

George Floyd family attorney Ben Crump spoke outside the White House Tuesday afternoon, following a closed-door meeting with President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. The civil rights attorney has been center stage in the aftermath of a string of racially-charged police shootings in the US in the last year

Earlier, Crump (second from right) stood alongside the Floyd family (pictured) at the US Capitol where they posed with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as they commemorated the one-year anniversary of George Floyd's death

Earlier, Crump (second from right) stood alongside the Floyd family (pictured) at the US Capitol where they posed with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as they commemorated the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death

While some of those court victories are now of historical significance, they also mean significant pay days for his firm, which takes a 30 per cent cut of awards, according to its website.

Earlier this month Crump won $10millon for the family of Andre Hill, 47, a black man fatally shot by a white cop as he emerged from his garage in the dark while holding a cell phone. The settlement will be paid by the city of Columbus, Ohio, where Hill lived.

Last year, the attorney won $27million for the Floyd family and $12million for Taylors, while also notching up $411million for a Florida motorcyclist crippled in a pile-up.

Assuming those funds are paid out in full, Crump’s firm could take in $135million from those three cases alone.  

So how did this child of a single mother growing up poor in the small city of Lumberton, North Carolina, become the nation’s go-to attorney and media magnet for police brutality cases that have rattled the nation?

According to a close confidante, it was Crump’s own humble beginnings that helped influenced his dedication to fighting racial injustice.   

Despite being no stranger to the cameras and the press, the lawyer rarely shares details about his family background and personal life and guards his loved ones carefully. 

But Dailymail.com can now reveal the influences that have brought him to this point: his mother, his wife, and his pastor, who disclosed exclusive details about one of America’s most influential and controversial lawyers.

Crumpy (pictured in March) has seen an eventful 12 months, stirring up public opinion amid a succession of high-profile civil cases involving black victims since Floyd's death last May

The Florida-based attorney (pictured in March) has seen an eventful 12 months since Floyd’s death, stirring up public opinion on police brutality cases involving black victims

In the past 12 months, Crump was able to secure multimillion dollar payouts for the families of black victims, including $12million for the family of Breonna Taylor, who was killed during a 'no-knock' police raid at her Kentucky home last March

In the past 12 months, Crump was able to secure multimillion dollar payouts for the families of black victims, including $12million for the family of Breonna Taylor, who was killed during a ‘no-knock’ police raid at her Kentucky home last March 

The attorney married educator Dr. Genae Crump, 47 – who has a twin sister, Renae – after meeting her in college in Florida.

The couple has an eight-year-old daughter, Brooklyn, who is featured in videos for Crump’s law firm based in Tallahassee.  

During his childhood in North Carolina, his fiercely determined mother, Helen Crump McArthur, 74, helped keep him grounded. 

The single mom worked two jobs – at a Converse shoe factory and as a hotel maid – to keep a roof over the heads of Crump and his two brothers.

Not much is known of the identity of the attorney’s father, but he is reported to have been stationed as a soldier in Fort Bragg, near Lumberton.

Helen went on to marry her second husband – who would become Crump’s surrogate father and also a key influence. The marriage would make Crump the oldest of nine children – including six step and half siblings. 

According to Reverend R.B. Holmes, pastor of Crump’s Bethel Missionary Baptist church in Tallahassee, it was the attorney’s mother who played a huge influence in his fight for justice. 

‘Ben has gained many of his attributes from his mother,’ he told DailyMail.com. 

While Crump has become a formidable and outspoken figure in the fight against racial injustice, he is relatively private when it come to his family and personal life.  Above he is seen with wife Genae and daughter Brooklyn

While Crump has become a formidable and outspoken figure in the fight against racial injustice, he is relatively private when it come to his family and personal life.  Above he is seen with wife Genae and daughter Brooklyn 

According to close friend and pastor, Reverend RB Holmes, it was the attorney's mother,  Helen Crump McArthur (pictured) 74, who kept him grounded while growing up in rural North Carolina

According to close friend and pastor, Reverend RB Holmes, it was the attorney’s mother,  Helen Crump McArthur (pictured) 74, who kept him grounded while growing up in rural North Carolina 

Crump's success in his field is estimated to have earned him millions over the past year. Yet the attorney does not live a luxurious life. His detached home (pictured) is valued at estimated at $445,000, according to property records on Zillow

Crump’s success in his field is estimated to have earned him millions over the past year. Yet the attorney does not live a luxurious life. His detached home (pictured) is valued at estimated at $445,000, according to property records on Zillow

‘She is a gracious, kind, loving, extremely memorable and a highly respectful woman. She is humble.’

The clergyman, who has known Crump for 20 years, added: ‘His mother had been a big role model to him. She is comfortable with who she is. And Ben loves his mother.’

Growing up in the rural south, Crump witnessed the effects of slavery and racism firsthand, having attended segregated schools during his early education. 

It was an eye-opening experience for Crump, especially when he later moved to a former whites-only school and saw the higher standard of books and equipment.

As is the case for many of his clients, the issue of police brutality towards black Americans is one that hits close to home. 

In one interview, Crump recalled being a child and witnessing his uncle be abused by a police officer because he was black and driving a nice car.

When he was in his early teens, his mother was determined to provide him with better schooling. 

She sent him to live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where it his stepfather reportedly lived. From here he attended nearby South Plantation High before moving on to study law at Florida State University.

Reverend R.B. Holmes (pictured in 2016) has a significant supporting role in the Crump legal machine, offering spiritual counsel and traveling with the lawyer on the biggest cases

Reverend R.B. Holmes (pictured in 2016) has a significant supporting role in the Crump legal machine, offering spiritual counsel and traveling with the lawyer on the biggest cases

Years later he brought his mother closer to him, moving her from Lumberton to a relatively modest detached house in a tree-lined street near his family in a quiet Tallahassee neighborhood.

Crump also took legal guardianship of a cousin’s two sons, who are now adults. 

‘That is Ben Crump’s heart,’ Rev Holmes added. 

‘If you want to rank the people who are the most significant in his life it’s going to be his family, his church, his community and then his career.

‘Genae is very supportive of Ben. Brooklyn is adorable and she is highly loved by her father and mother. 

‘Ben is very humble, very meek and very memorable. I remember the first time I met him 20 years ago at our church. After talking to him, I said: “young man, you’re going to be a great lawyer”.’  

Rev Holmes has a significant supporting role in the Crump legal machine, offering spiritual counsel and traveling with the lawyer on the biggest cases.

He was at Crump’s side at the funeral of drug dealer Andrew Brown in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, earlier this month. 

Brown’s case made national headlines after he was shot in the back of the head by police while at the wheel of his car.

‘Most times in those situations I go with Ben to give him moral support. I am there to help with a prayer and guidance. And I have done that over the years,’ the pastor said.

‘I couldn’t go to Minneapolis for George Floyd for medical reasons. Instead I was talking to him on the phone, texting. When the jury was out, I prayed with him. I was in constant dialogue with him.

Crump has become a major figure in the nationwide reckoning against police brutality and racial injustice, however, his story is one with humble beginnings. He and his wife are seen posing with former First Lady Michelle Obama in an undated Facebook photo

Crump has become a major figure in the nationwide reckoning against police brutality and racial injustice, however, his story is one with humble beginnings. He and his wife are seen posing with former First Lady Michelle Obama in an undated Facebook photo

The 51-year-old married educator Dr. Genae Crump, 47 - who has a twin sister, Renae - after meeting her in college in Florida

The 51-year-old married educator Dr. Genae Crump, 47 – who has a twin sister, Renae – after meeting her in college in Florida 

Crump and his mother, Helen

As an adult, he's continued caring for his mother, moving her from Lumberton to a relatively modest house in a tree-lined street near his family in a quiet neighborhood in Tallahassee, where his family is based

As an adult, he’s continued caring for his mother (left) moving her from Lumberton to a relatively modest house in a tree-lined street near his family in a quiet neighborhood in Tallahassee, where his family is based

‘I was with him in Ferguson, Missouri, over the shooting of Michael Brown and throughout Trayvon Martin.’

The Floyd family visited the church on November 3 last year, along with First Lady Jill Biden. Breonna Taylor’s family are now due to visit soon.

Rev Holmes said: ‘That’s what Ben does, he will bring the families to Bethel church and pray with them.’

While humble is a word associated with his mother, it is fair to say it is not one associated with Crump’s public persona.

A formidable lawyer, he appears to relish the limelight in front of the media and has even drawn criticism comparing him to a civil rights equivalent of an ambulance-chasing lawyer.

However, he is reported as saying he turns down a dozen requests for every case he represents, choosing the ones that will ‘shock the conscious of the American people.’

As recently as last month he was blasted for a tweet in which he wrongly claimed 16-year-old black girl Ma’Khia Bryant was unarmed when she was shot and killed by a police officer in Columbus, Ohio, last month.

Bryant was seen wielding a large kitchen knife and lunging at a young woman in a pink sweat suit when officer Nicholas Reardon fired four times.

A formidable lawyer, he appears to relish the limelight in front of the media and has even drawn criticism comparing him to a civil rights equivalent of an ambulance-chasing lawyer. He is pictured above during a press conference with Breonna Taylor's family

A formidable lawyer, he appears to relish the limelight in front of the media and has even drawn criticism comparing him to a civil rights equivalent of an ambulance-chasing lawyer. He is pictured above during a press conference with Breonna Taylor’s family 

Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, center left, attorney Ben Crump, center right, and the Rev. Al Sharpton, right, raise their hands during a news conference after the murder conviction against former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd last month

Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, center left, attorney Ben Crump, center right, and the Rev. Al Sharpton, right, raise their hands during a news conference after the murder conviction against former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd last month 

The shooting happened shortly after a jury convicted former cop Derek Chauvin of murdering George Floyd, with Crump in the courtroom.

‘As we breathe a collective sigh of relief today, a community in Columbus felt the sting of another police shooting as @ColumbusPolice killed an unarmed Black girl named Makiyah Bryant. Another child lost!’ he tweeted at the time. 

The attorney faced a barrage of online criticism. Radio host Dan O’Donnell tweeted ‘please stop lying’ along with police body cam video of Bryant with the knife.

Last October, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron also accused Crump of creating ‘falsehoods’ about him and his role in the case of Breonna Taylor, who was killed during a ‘no-knock’ police raid on her home.

Last year, Crump was influential in stirring up public opinion regarding the death of George Floyd, who died in custody of four Minneapolis Police Officers, who were all charged with his death

Last year, Crump was influential in stirring up public opinion regarding the death of George Floyd, who died in custody of four Minneapolis Police Officers, who were all charged with his death

Cameron, who is black, said: ‘This is the Ben Crump model. He goes into a city, creates a narrative, cherry picks facts to establish, to prove that narrative, creates chaos in a community, misrepresents the facts, and then leaves with his money, and then asks the community to pick up the pieces.’

Crump kicked off his law career with college friend Daryl Parks, who was also involved in the case of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old shot dead by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, in 2012.

However, he split with Parks and his new firm was launched in 2017 in association with injury claims law giant Morgan & Morgan amid great fanfare. Parks, who did not return requests for an interview, has always maintained the split was amicable.

Crump’s firm now has 12 lawyers and five offices. Other cases include last year’s killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia, and the fatal police shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Minneapolis last month.

Its website details multi-million dollar victories and has links to the lawyer’s TV appearances, including his hosting of the 2017 six-part A&E documentary, Who Killed Tupac? about the rapper’s 1996 shooting in Las Vegas.

Crump's firm now has 12 lawyers and five offices. His daughter Brooklyn has been featured in commercials for his company

Crump’s firm now has 12 lawyers and five offices. His daughter Brooklyn has been featured in commercials for his company

Crump is also co-writing and producing a TV special on Nichelle Nichols, the black actress best known as Lieutenant Uhura in Star Trek. 

His victories for Floyd, Taylor, and Florida motorcyclist Duane Washington is estimated to rake in $135million.

Yet despite his earnings, the attorney does not live a luxurious life. His detached home is valued at estimated at $445,000, according to property records on Zillow.

Meanwhile, his church is in another very rough, part of town. 

‘In a video on our website I say when I joined this church it was in a ghetto. Essentially, it still is,’ Rev Holmes said.

‘Ben Crump is one of those who have given their time and their talents to build this church. 

‘We have made progress because of people like him, who live on the other side of town, but not so proud that he won’t come back to the inner city and give their resources and gifts and talents to rebuild a debilitated and marginalized black community.’

Crump spends a large amount of time flying around the country. He attends church whenever he is home, along with his family.

‘Most times I will let him come to the pulpit to address the congregation on the issues that he is dealing with,’ Holmes added.  

‘He’s a very busy man who adores his family. But he shares his time. That’s who he is.’



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