Lincoln News

Attorney Ben Crump To Speak, Receive An Honorary Degree At Lincoln University’s 161st Commencement

Ben Crump
Renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney Benjamin Crump will speak at Lincoln University’s 161st Commencement.

Bethel, Henry, and Wimbish to be awarded honorary degrees

LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, Pa. – Lincoln University President Brenda A. Allen announced today renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney Benjamin Crump will speak at the 161st Commencement. The date for the ceremony—postponed from May 3 because of the pandemic— has yet to be announced.

“Now more than ever, the vision and voices of advocates for social justice must be heard,” said Allen. “Mr. Crump’s persistence, passion, and leadership on civil rights exemplify what we teach students: to focus their energy on bringing constructive change to the society in which we live.”

Selected for this honor by the faculty and approved by the Board of Trustees, Crump will also receive an honorary Doctor of Laws. Three recipients will receive honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees: Nelson Henry Jr. (posthumously), Dr. Leonard Bethel, and Emery Wimbish.

About Benjamin Crump

Crump has established himself as one of the nation’s foremost lawyers and advocates for social justice. He has 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 hope to those pushed to the outside. He is the founder and principal owner of Ben Crump Law.

Crump has represented clients in some of the most high-profile cases in the United States, including Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. Crump is currently representing the family of George Floyd.

Crump was born in Lumberton, North Carolina. He graduated from Florida State

University and received his law degree from FSU College of Law.

About Nelson Henry Jr.

Nelson Henry Jr. attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania for three years before serving his country in the U.S. Army. Henry, a World War II veteran, was among more than 48,000 soldiers who were given “blue discharges” between 1941 and 1945. Of those, a disproportionate number went to black, gay, or lesbian service members. Neither honorable nor dishonorable, the blue discharge denied them access to military benefits such as a funeral honor guard. Printed on blue paper, the discharge was a notice to potential employers who refused to hire soldiers without an honorable discharge.

Nearly 75 years later after Henry fought for decades to have it changed, the Army found that an injustice had occurred and finally upgraded the decision to an honorable discharge. Henry passed away on May 9, 2020; a representative of Henry will receive the honorary degree on his behalf.

About Dr. Leonard Bethel ’61

Dr. Leonard L. Bethel is a professor emeritus from Rutgers University. He taught in the Africana Studies Department and retired in June 2011 after 42 years. Born in Philadelphia, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Lincoln University in 1961. He then earned a master of divinity degree from Johnson C. Smith University School of Theology and a master of arts from the New Brunswick Theology Seminary. He completed his doctorate of education from the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University in 1975. Dr. Bethel has served on various boards and has been honored with several service awards from various institutions. He is a member of the Lincoln University Athletic Hall of Fame and served for many years on the Lincoln University Board of Trustees.

Emery Wimbish, Jr.

Emery Wimbish, Jr. served a long and distinguished career at Lincoln University, retiring as the dean of the Langston Hughes Memorial Library.

In 1971, an idea for mini-libraries in Frederick Douglass and Hansberry Halls was created when he gave Dean Bradshaw Kindsey duplicate copies of books from Vail Memorial Library, thereby putting those books in closer reach to the Lincoln community and creating an experience of living and learning in the halls.

He was chosen as the University’s representative to receive the personal library donated from the estate of Langston Hughes. He also received a substantial grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to sponsor a national conference on Langston Hughes.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, he earned degrees from Clark College and Atlanta University, both in Atlanta, Georgia; and Columbia University in New York.

About Commencement

Four hundred fifty undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to participate in Lincoln University's 161st Commencement ceremony. The ceremony date is to be announced. 

Meet Lincoln University’s 2020 valedictorian, salutatorian, and members of the Class of 2020.

For more information, visit the Commencement website. Lincoln University’s LU FacebookLU Twitter, and LU Instagram feeds will have images and stories about the weekend’s activities. Commencement photos will be available to download from Lincoln’s LU Flickr account following the event. The official hashtags for Commencement are #LUGrad2020 and #Lincoln2020. 

Media: All members are required to inform the Office of Communications & Public Relations in advance for access to the ceremony and dignitaries for interviews. Please contact the Office of Communications at or 484-365-7427.