Benjamin Crump, President of the National Bar Association and the lawyer for the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice, sang the praises of Ben Carson in a recent op-ed for TIME.
Carson, currently climbing in the Republican primary polls, has come under fire from all sides for saying that he wouldn't "advocate for" a committed Muslim to be President of the United States. In his opinion piece, Crump defended Carson, whose comments he said he believes have been "misconstrued." But Crump went way beyond simply addressing those "inflammatory" remarks by Carson, the high-profile lawyer announced that the former neurosurgeon is both a "role model and a hero" to many Americans and someone "we should take a closer look at."
Crump began by describing a recent visit to Ferguson, Missouri, the Republican presidential candidate took, a visit Crump characterized as a "positive one." What struck Crump the most was that he “seemed to be a man who was willing to address the issues at stake in a respectful and thoughtful manner.” Finding himself “enthralled by his ideas and his willingness to listen,” Crump said Carson brought a valuable message to the community: the importance of education and the need to “de-emphasize race”:
“We need to de-emphasize race and emphasize respect for each other,” he said. “If we respect people, we can begin to understand them. Our strength is in our unity.” I was taken aback by this comment, and many people’s initial reaction was like mine, one of irritation and anger. It seemed to imply that Carson did not believe that race matters at all.
But Crump explained that after talking with Carson more, he came to understand that his initial response was unfounded. Carson doesn’t think “race doesn’t matter” or that racism doesn’t exist in this country, explained Crump, rather, he believes that “focusing solely on race will not allow us to foster the respectful dialogue to fix our fundamental problems.”
Crump then praised Carson for something Democratic presidential candidates have gotten booed off the stage for uttering: “Carson believes that all lives matter, and I would find it very difficult to find anyone who disagrees with that.”
Here is a man trying to instill the notion that we need to begin seeing people as people, and not perceiving everything through racial eyes. There are opportunities out there for our young people of color, but they won’t reach their full potential unless our society encourages them to achieve greatness while also facilitating an environment conducive to learning and improving oneself regardless of whatever obstacles they face.
Crump went on to give some context to Carson’s controversial statements about a Muslim president (which a recent poll found most Americans agree with, by the way), and turned the incident into something of a positive for Carson: He’s not a slick politician. Like Obama, Crump argued, Carson brings a valuable perspective from the African American community to the national conversation.
Crump finishes with a call for the black community to really listen to Carson, who has helped the black community by being “a role model and a hero for many”:
Long before he decided to enter the political landscape, Carson did positive things for our community. His career as a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon, after growing up in a single-parent household in the slums of Detroit, is one that we must keep in mind as this election continues. He is too valuable for our community to lose, and regardless of my political affiliation, there is a part of me that wants him to do well. No matter the outcome of the presidential race, Carson’s credibility should be left undamaged because he will still be a role model and a hero for many Americans, especially African-Americans—including myself.