Today, the NAACP and BET announced that U.S. Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) will be honored with the prestigious Chairman’s Award during the “54th NAACP Image Awards.”
The Chairman’s Award is bestowed in recognition of individuals who demonstrate exemplary public service and use their distinct platforms to create agents of change.
Past honorees of the Chairman’s Award include Samuel L. Jackson, the late U.S. Congressman John Lewis and Ruby Dee, Danny Glover, Rev. James Lawson, Tyler Perry, then-Senator Barack Obama, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and former Surgeon General Regina Benjamin. It was also announced that civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump will receive the Social Justice Impact Award.
“Congressman Bennie Thompson is a voting rights icon with a remarkable career in politics spanning over three decades,” said Leon W. Russell, chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors. “As the Chairman of the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol, Rep. Thompson has worked tirelessly to protect and serve our country. His continued public service and advocacy for social change make him an excellent recipient of the Chairman’s Award.”
“Benjamin Crump is not just an attorney, but a courageous advocate and force of nature in the fight for freedom and equality,” said Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP. “He has worked tirelessly to provide a voice for the voiceless and continues to inspire the next generation of civil rights attorneys. We’re proud to honor him with the Social Justice Impact Award.”
“Congressman Thompson and Attorney Crump are among the most deserving recipients of these prestigious NAACP Chairman’s and Social Justice Awards, both demonstrating an unwavering commitment to furthering the civil rights agenda,” said Scott Mills, President, and CEO, of BET. “Each year, the NAACP Image Awards presents an opportunity for us to amplify the incredible contributions of individuals who’ve made an outsized impact on our community; it is our great honor to be able to shine this light in partnership with the NAACP in recognition of barrier-breaking leaders like Congressman Thompson and Attorney Crump, whose work will inspire generations to come.”
Born in a state with a unique history of racial inequality, Rep.Thompson draws inspiration from the legacies of Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer, Aaron Henry, and Henry Kirksey. The Bolton, Mississippi native considers it an honor to walk the path Mississippi civil rights icons paved decades ago.
Serving his 15th term in the United States House of Representatives, Rep.Thompson represents Mississippi’s Second Congressional District where he has spent his entire life fighting to improve the lives of all people. He is the longest-serving African-American elected official in the State of Mississippi and the lone Democrat in the Mississippi Congressional Delegation.
Rep. Thompson began his grassroots political activism being a civil rights champion through the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) while a student at Tougaloo College – a private historically black college in Jackson, Miss.
He organized voter registration drives for African-Americans throughout the Mississippi Delta on behalf of the organization before graduating and following in the footsteps of his mother by becoming a school teacher. During his tenure educating the youth of Mississippi, a fire inside Thompson was ignited pushing him to be a voice for the voiceless through elected office.
This year’s Social Justice Impact Award will go to Attorney Benjamin Crump, a nationally recognized civil rights lawyer. Listed amongst the Most Influential People of 2021 by TIME100, Ebony Magazine’s Power 100 Most Influential African Americans, The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Lawyers, and the 2014 NNPA Newsmaker of the Year, Ben Crump is referred to as “Black America’s Attorney General.”
Through a steadfast dedication to justice and service, renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney Crump has established himself as one of the nation’s foremost lawyers and advocates for social justice, winning several record settlements and verdicts for victims and families that have faced injustice.
He has worked on some of the most high-profile cases in the U.S., most recently representing the family of Tyre Nichols, as well as the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, the residents of Flint, Michigan, who were severely affected by the pollution of the Flint River, and the family of Henrietta Lacks in a landmark reparations case.
In 2021, St. Thomas University College of Law announced the Benjamin L. Crump Center for Social Justice in his honor, which will open doors for minority students pursuing law degrees.
His book, published in October 2019, Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People, reflects on the landmark cases he has battled, and how discrimination in the courthouse devastates real families and communities. He is the founder and principal owner of Ben Crump Law.