Crump leaves them charged up with powerful speech at AACCNJ gala

Like all good speeches, sermons and calls to action, you start small and build up the rhetoric — repeating your theme over and over again.

Ben Crump put on a masterclass performance Thursday night at the annual Circle of Achievement Gala by the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.

After being introduced as the winner of the Presidential Award of Excellence, Crump gave an impassioned 12-minute speech that was filled with emotion and left the sold-out crowd wanting more.

His main point was simple yet powerful: It’s all about the children.

“We must make sure our children know that we will lead them into a better future despite what society might try to tell them,” he said. “Every chance we get, we have to let our children know we believe in them.”

Crump said he wanted to leave the crowd with three charges — but they all went back to this essential idea: Supporting their children at a time when society is not always in alignment.

He talked of giving the next generation a sense of self — and a sense of their history — at a time when that is in question.

Crump spoke in disbelief that the mere teaching of an advance placement class on Black history was being challenged — if not outright prohibited — in some states.

“I can’t believe it,” he said. “They are forbidden the teaching of advanced placement African American history in 2024.”

In addition, there’s the idea that some of the most influential books, written by some of the most influential black authors (Maya Angelou, Alice Walker and James Baldwin) are banned.

The only thing as incredible, he said, is the idea that diversity is being questioned.

“I never thought, in 2024, we would be debating whether diversity was a good thing or not,” he said to a roaring crowd.

It’s why, Crump said, those in the audience need to step up and speak up.

Referencing Martin Luther King Jr., he preached that there is no time to debate or discuss whether something is popular, politically correct or safe.

You only have to ask, Crump said, whether it is the right thing to do.

The crowd of approximately 750 was riled up. But, it was clear, this was not a mob rule request. This was an individual ask.

Those in the audience can’t wait for others, Crump said.

“If we aren’t ready to fight for our children’s future, we can’t expect anyone else to fight for our children’s future,” he said.

“They need to know that you believe in their future so much that you are willing to sacrifice everything for them — even if we’re willing to give up our life — that’s how much our children need to know that we believe in them.”

It’s a battle that has been raging for centuries. And one Crump said isn’t going to end anytime soon.

“We’ve got to be willing to fight for our children’s future until hell freezes over,” he said.

And then, like a preacher, he delivered the mic drop line.

“And then we’ve got to be ready to fight on ice,” he said.