Crump delivers stirring speech during book signing
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump showed up at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church for a book signing.
He ended up giving his audience a history lesson and an update on issues that Black people face daily. The seldom mentioned concerns and some of the high-profile cases that he’s been involved in, are featured in his 272-page book that is titled “Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People.”
Throughout his presentation, Crump talked about the many ways that Black and Brown skin people are disenfranchised. One of the most stunning disclosures came when he talked about how incarcerated Blacks are being encouraged to become sterilized.
That, he said, is part of the legalized genocide case that he makes. He pointed out that most of the Blacks who are incarcerated are between the ages of 18 to 45.
“When you really think about that, all the Black men who they’re locking up are (at) prime child-bearing ages,” Crump said. “They are stopping future generations of our people from being born.
“So if you have the women going to prison and the men going to prison (and) they are forcing them to have sterilization and these kinds of things, I challenge them to say why we can’t call it legalized genocide of colored people.”
Despite the short notice on the book signing, a packed room on the lower level attended the event at Bethel. Crump’s appearance to speak on racial disparities continues a tradition at Bethel, said Rev. RB Holmes, Pastor at the church
Crump’s presence was similar to “the historic significance of the great C.K. Steele, and other great leaders from Martin Luther King to Hosier Williams to Andrew Young, Jesse Jackson and Coretta Scott King,” Holmes said. “All of them came to Bethel Church and this is where Ben is supposed to be.”
Crump was also joined by Allison Jean, mother of Botham Jean. He was shot in his apartment by Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison last year.
The case is one of many that Crump used to show how the criminal system discriminates. He also spoke at length about his experience in Ferguson, Missouri, where he represented the family of Michael Brown, victim of a police shooting.
He recalled how weeks of protest followed and the calling out of the National Guard. That angered one member of the activist organization, Black Lives Matter, to the point that he challenged a guard to take his life.
“Go ahead and kill me now, with all these people and all these cameras out here because you all are going to kill us anyway when they do away,” Crump recollected the man saying.
City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow said Crump’s speech resonated with him.
“I think he honed in on some points that we see across the country and Tallahassee is no different in terms of the experiences that people have here,” Matlow said.
Referring to a recent discussion on publication of criminal juveniles’ photos, which is being seen as racist, Matlow added: “The more we can draw attention to it and the more elected officials particularly are willing to influence decision making there is always hope to move in a better direction.”
Crump used the case of contaminated water in Flint, Mich., and communities in California where contamination caused by industrial plants are causing physical defects in children. He called those cases of environmental racism and a form of genocide.
“They are killing us softly,” he said.
Since its publication, Crump’s book has become a bestseller on Amazon.com.
“This book is speaking truth to power to say that we should not allow the legalized genocide of anybody,” he said. “When you get right down to the crux of the matter, what we are really talking about is that this basic concept that we want all of our children to have an equal opportunity at the American dream.”