Livingstone to host attorney Ben Crump, Equal Justice Now for bail and police reform panel discussion

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 9, 2023

Livingstone News Service

SALISBURY – Civil rights attorney and recent NAACP Image Award recipient Ben Crump is coming to the campus of Livingstone College for a panel discussion on national bail reform and over policing.

Crump is the national spokesperson for Equal Justice Now, which is hosting the one-day event, the first of its kind to be held in North Carolina, and only the third one in the country.

Equal Justice Now (EJN) is a nonprofit social welfare organization that advocates against false arrest, unreasonable detention, and wrongful conviction and incarceration. Its mission is to eradicate suppression, to address over policing, police reform and criminal reform, and to end systemic racism.

The panel discussion will be held from 1-5 p.m. on Thursday, March 23, in Varick Auditorium, located on the campus of Livingstone College at 701 W. Monroe St. The first 90 minutes will be dedicated to bail reform and the second half to police reform.

Moderators for the event will be Eric Kowalczyk, a veteran of the Baltimore Police Department, crisis communications specialist, author and minister; and Bakari Sellers, an attorney, former S.C. state representative and political commentator.

Confirmed panelists to date include:

  • Mecklenburg County Sheriff Gary McFadden;
  • Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather;
  • James Buie, retired Gaston County police chief and author of “From the Ground Up: How to Refine American Policing Now”;
  • Gemale Black, Salisbury-Rowan NAACP president;
  • Latarcia Barnes, chair, Livingstone College, Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology;
  • JaPharil Jones, president of Black Lives Matter 757 (Virginia);
  • Melanie Reid, associate dean of faculty and professor of law at Lincoln Memorial University in Knoxville, Tenn.;
  • Joe Towns of Nashville, Tenn.;
  • Attorney Dominique Calhoun of Houston, Texas; and
  • Carleena Deonanan a defense attorney of Raleigh.


“The chance to bring collaborative dialogue to challenging social issues is the hallmark of Equal Justice Now’s work,” said Tony Smith co-founder of EJN in a news release. “Bail reform and over policing are two issues that strike at the heart of issues faced by disadvantaged communities. Our hope is these panels will unite people towards a solution that benefits all communities, particularly those represented on the campus of Livingstone College.”

Livingstone President Dr. Anthony J. Davis said he is ecstatic that Ben Crump and Equal Justice Now selected Livingstone College to host this crucial discussion on topics that are threatening our social justice system.

“As President 13, I am committed to elevating the profile of Livingstone College and hosting this program is a part of our engagement and empowerment strategy to propel Livingstone forward,” Davis said. “This event will expose our students to a national platform on issues that affect their demographic disproportionately, and hopefully will empower them as the next generation of leaders to change the system from within.”

It was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who said injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere and whatever affects one directly, affects us all indirectly, Davis said. “We should all be concerned with improving processes, eradicating obstacles to social equality and coming together to have a civil conversation about solutions with experts in their respective fields.”

Those interested in attending the free event are encouraged to register at Eventbrite at :