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B-CU Announces 2019 Commencement Speakers

Civil Rights Attorney Benjamin Crump and
National Security and Foreign Affairs Legal Strategist Johanna LeBlanc
to deliver commencement addresses at
Historically Black College and University founded by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune

Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) Spring Commencement ceremonies will be held on Saturday, May 11, 2019, at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., at the Mary McLeod Bethune Performing Arts Center located at 698 International Speedway Boulevard in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Internationally-renown civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, Esquire, will provide the 9 a.m. commencement address. Foreign policy and national security legal professional Johanna Leblanc, Esquire, will deliver the 3 p.m. commencement keynote.

B-CU will provide live video streaming of the Spring Commencement ceremonies on its website at Live @ B-CU so that family and friends of the graduates and the general public will be able to share in this most memorable occasion. Eight reserved seat tickets will be issued to each graduate who has fulfilled the academic and financial clearance process by the University. A limited number of tickets will be available to the general public.

Graduating Schools
Rufus L. and Janice M. Wilson College of Liberal Arts
School of Nursing
Commencement Keynote Speaker: Benjamin Crump, Esquire
Date: Saturday, May 11, 2019
Time: 9 a.m.
Location: Mary McLeod Bethune Performing Arts Center Auditorium,
698 International Speedway Blvd.; Daytona Beach, Florida
Must provide ticket upon entry

About Benjamin Crump, Esquire

Benjamin L. CrumpThrough a steadfast dedication to justice and service to others, Benjamin Crump has established himself as one of the nation's foremost attorneys and advocates for civil rights and social justice. His legal acumen as both a litigator and advocate has ensured that those most frequently marginalized in American society are protected by their nation's contract with its constituency. He successfully battled to protect constitutional rights at the local, state, and federal levels, using his advocacy skills and the high profile of the cases to provide a voice to those long silenced and underserved.

Benjamin Crump has served in leadership positions at the highest levels of the legal profession, and has been recognized for his efforts by numerous esteemed organizations. He served as the 73rd President of the National Bar Association and is President of the National Civil Rights Trial Lawyers Association. He was the first African-American to chair the Florida State University College of Law Board of Directors, and currently serves on the Innocence Project Board of Directors. He was bestowed the NAACP Thurgood Marshall Award, the SCLC Martin Luther King Servant Leader Award, the American Association for Justice Johnny Cochran Award, and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Eleanor Roosevelt Medallion for Service. In 2016, he was designated as an Honorary Fellow by the University of Pennsylvania College of Law, and he has been nationally recognized as the 2014 NNPA Newsmaker of the Year, The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Lawyers, and Ebony Magazine Power 100 Most Influential African Americans.

Attorney Crump has represented clients in some of the highest profile cases in the United States, recovering millions of dollars in damages for them. His work has involved the cases of Trayvon Martin, who was killed in Sanford, Florida, by a neighborhood watch volunteer; Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri; the precedent-setting U.S. Supreme Court case involving excessive force perpetrated against Robbie Tolan; and 10 of the 13 Black women who were victims in the Holtzc law Oklahoma City Police rape case in 2015. He also has used his successes on the national stage to help ensure quality legal representation and access to the courts for poor people in his home community, serving as Board Chairman of Legal Services of North Florida and, with his law partner Daryl Parks, donating $1 million to the organization's capital campaign.

Attorney Crump is the executive producer of the ground breaking documentary, "Woman in Motion," about Nichelle Nichols and the race to space. Nichols was among the first African-American actresses on TV and played Lieutenant Uhura in Star Trek the original series. He is involved in "Who Killed Tupac, Search For Justice “and the host of the critically acclaimed legal docudramas, "Evidence of Innocence" on TV One and "The Search For Justice" on A&E. He can also be seen on Fox's "You The Jury. " His Crump Watch column, a legal essay on law, society, and culture, appears on He portrays legendary civil rights attorney Z. Alexander Lobby in the upcoming Hollywood movie production Marshall, and has appeared in the documentary Beating Justice, the story of the Martin Lee Anderson case, and BET's I am Trayvon. He serves as host for the Benjamin Crump Social Justice Institute Annual Contemporary Issues in Civil Rights Symposium, where national thought leaders gather at Tennessee State University.

Benjamin L. Crump was born in 1969 in Lumberton, North Carolina. He graduated from Florida State University (FSU) and received his law degree from FSU College of Law. He is married to Dr. Genae Angelique Crump, and is the proud father of Brooklyn Zeta Crump, and legal guardian to Chancellor Isiah Crump and Jemarcus Olajuwon Crump.

Graduating Schools
School of Graduate Studies
Joe and Barbara Petrock College of Health Sciences
La-Doris McClaney School of Performing Arts and Communications
Bishop Cornelius and Dorothye Henderson School of Religion
College of Business and Entrepreneurship
College of Education College of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics
Bob Billingslea School of Hospitality Management
Commencement Keynote Speaker: Johanna Leblanc, Esquire
Date: Saturday, May 11, 2019
Time: 3 p.m.
Location: Mary McLeod Bethune Performing Arts Center,
698 International Speedway Blvd.; Daytona Beach, Florida
Must provide ticket upon entry

About Johanna Leblanc, Esquire

Johanna LeblancJohanna Leblanc is a foreign policy and national security legal professional and self-proclaimed internationalist. She holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.) from Indiana University-Robert H. McKinney School of Law, where she focused on international law, a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in national security and U.S. foreign relations law from The George Washington University School of Law in Washington, D.C. She also holds a Master of Science in public administration from Florida A&M University (FAMU) and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU).

Previously, Leblanc has advocated for better environmental policies; raised awareness regarding housing issues impacting immigrants; worked on women's rights issues internationally and nationally; and served on various boards. She has worked extensively in Southeast-Asia, Southern and Western Africa on issues ranging from access to legal justice to child marriage. Due to her work in the U.S. and abroad, she has earned numerous awards. In 2018, the Association of Haitian Professionals in Washington, D.C., presented Leblanc with the Lifetime Trailblazer Award for Driving Change and Innovation.

Leblanc also served as a member of the Military Observation Commission Project (MOCP), where approval by the Pentagon, she traveled to report on military commission war crimes hearings at Guantanamo Bay. In 2017, Mayor Bowser of Washington, D.C., appointed Leblanc to the Commission on African Affairs as a Commissioner. Some of her duties include but are not limited to advising the administration on how to address issues impacting the African diaspora through public policy and testifying at hearings.

Currently, Leblanc serves as a Senior Advisor to both Haiti’s Ambassador to the United States and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Her portfolio includes promoting the interests of the State of Haiti and its citizens in Congress and advising the State on national security and immigration-related matters. In addition, Leblanc serves as a National Security and Foreign Affairs Legal Analyst, where she provides commentary through national and international press on domestic and foreign politics. She has appeared on FOX 5 DC, Voice of America (VOA), Roland Martin Unfiltered, and other networks.

An international speaker who is passionate about women's empowerment, Leblanc also plans to have an influence in foreign policies that will have a direct political, social, and economical impact on the international community.

Office of Communications

Joy Jones
Director of Communications
PH: 386-481-2959

About Bethune Cookman University:

Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship, and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement.  B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000.  For more information, visit

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