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Attorney Ben Crump

Ben Crump, Esq Receives Honorary Degree, Dr. Stephen Broughton Recognized as Trustee Emeritus at Friday Commencement

First Graduates to Receive Hospitality/Tourism Management Degree Cross Stage

Pine Bluff, AR — On Friday, December 9th, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) hosted its 166th commencement exercises. One hundred sixty-six graduates received bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the five schools: School of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Human Sciences; School of Arts and Sciences; School of Business and Management; School of Education; and University College. Two graduates received the first degrees conferred by the university in Hospitality/Tourism Management, and one was commissioned into the Army National Guard. Civil rights and personal injury attorney Benjamin Crump received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Dr. Stephen Broughton was honored as Trustee Emeritus after serving ten years on the University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees. The ceremony is available to view via UAPB’s YouTube channel.

Crump, who was also the commencement speaker, shared an impassioned speech, telling graduates “it is you who are the answered prayers of our ancestors. You all represent the hope of the African slave…. You represent the crème de la crème, the best of the best, and you have an obligation to wake up every day and be the best you can be.”

Crump joked with graduates that they weren’t having an out-of-body experience; that this moment was real and appealed to graduates to use their education to uplift others.

“If you remember nothing else I say today, I want you to remember that education is no good if you just keep it among the educated,” Crump said. “You have to take this education back home… back to the people who couldn’t come get an education. This education is not just for you. It’s for all of us.”

Listed among the Most Influential People of 2021 by TIME100, Ebony Magazine’s Power 100 Most Influential African Americans, and The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Lawyers, Ben Crump is one of the nation’s foremost lawyers and advocates for social justice. At the commencement ceremony, Crump passionately thanked the crowd for supporting his legal team’s efforts to get justice in many of the cases involving the deaths of people of color at the hands of police and other wrongful deaths.

“It is because you said, ‘until we get justice for George Floyd, we can’t breathe,’ that we saw the convictions of police officers for his death,” Crump declared to heavy applause.

Crump also shared with graduates his personal stories of growth during law school.

“When I was in law school, they taught us people remember ten percent of what they hear, twenty percent of what they read, and eighty percent of what they see,” Crump said. “And every day, you have to let them see that you will not be denied, that you refuse to lose.”

Marion Franklin Smith, III and Stephanie Deborah Smith are the first two graduates to receive a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality/Tourism Management, a program that began in 2020.

Regena Phrancine Rowe was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Army National Guard. Dr. Stephen Broughton ’79, after receiving a plaque for his service as a UA System Trustee told graduates “greatness is in your future.”