Crump urges educating Black children on democracy
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Many in the packed Exhibition Hall at the Civic Center might have been surprised to hear civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump speak of his admiration for Benjamin Franklin, a former slave owner.
Crump hailed Franklin for his later push for the abolishment of slavery, then turned to one of Franklin’s famous sayings to make his point about protecting Black children and educating them on democracy.
“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch,” Franklin is known to have said. “Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”
The gist of that, Crump said, is that Black children should be taught what democracy looks like. Doing that requires recognizing inequities, police brutality on Blacks and other injustices, Crump said.
Crump’s tone in his keynote address at the NAACP’s Freedom Fund Award ceremony this past Thursday night was as if he was involved in one of the many civil rights cases that he’s known for handling, including the recent shooting of Markeis McGlockton in a stand your ground case.
“My argument tonight is that we make sure our children are well-armed lambs to contest the vote; they are well-armed lambs to contest voter suppression, well armed to contest economic inequalities, to contest police brutality; well-armed lambs to contest racist Jim Crow laws like stand your ground,” Crump said.
Later in his speech, which at times seemed as if he were delivering a sermon, Crump said Black parents have an obligation to their children.
“We must stand up for our children because it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “If we don’t fight for our children, there’s nobody who is going to fight for our children. If we don’t stand up our children aren’t going to be safe.”
The audience including 22 honorees who were recognized for their service as elected officials, former NAACP members and other volunteers. Crump’s longtime friend and former partner in a law firm, Daryl Parks, also was honored.
Current president of the Tallahassee NAACP chapter Delaitre Hollinger also was recognized for his work as the youngest leader of any chapter at age 24. Several others were inducted post humorously.
Former Leon County Commissioner and one of the longest –serving former presidents of the NAACP Anita Davis was among the honorees. During her tenure, Davis built a reputation for being a champion for the underserved.
“I not only had the NAACP, but I had the children, families and political pressure and getting things done,” Davis said, while expressing appreciation for the recognition. “I like the part that they say ‘thank you for your time in doing what you do.
“My work was strictly for others. I did that because it’s in my soul. I was thinking what I could do to make my community whole.”
Judith Hawkins, who served more than 14 years as a Leon County judge, was one of several in the legal field who were recognized. The honor comes shortly after Hawkins returned to practice as an attorney.
“I can’t even imagine how to put in words my great gratitude to be included in the list that the NAACP is honoring tonight,” she said. “For them to honor elected officials and for me to be included is recognition that my service as an elected official has been valued and appreciated. It’s also nice to be recognized while I’m still here.”
Before leaving the stage, Crump praised the NAACP for bringing the contribution of current and former elected officials to the forefront.
“What an awesome thing to do to acknowledge all these great citizens who didn’t feel it was robbery to service the public, especially now that we are dealing with all this voter suppression,” he said. “We better not take them for granted. You all sacrificed when you didn’t have to.”