IRAWMA to Present Awards to Rita Marley and Ben Crump

by Howard Campbell

LAUDERDHILL – Rita Marley, matriarch of the world-famous Marley family and Civil Rights attorney Ben Crump, are recipients of major awards at the March 22 International Reggae And World Music Awards (IRAWMA) scheduled for Lauderhill Performing Arts Center in South Florida.

Dr. Ephraim Martin, founder of the IRAWMA, made the announcement recently. Mrs. Marley will receive Martin’s International IRAWMA Philanthropist award. Crump, an African American from Florida, will accept the Freedom Fighter Award, from Martin’s International’s Black Heroes Matter Coalition.

Honoree Rita Marley – Philanthropist Award

Martin, who first staged the IRAWMA in Chicago in 1982, lauded Marley’s musical and entrepreneurial skills.

“Since 1982, Dr. Rita Marley has attended, performed, presented, nominated and won several IRAWMA Awards. Prior to the (Covid-19) pandemic, in 2019, she was honored at the 37th IRAWMA with a Reggae 50 Award for her over 50 years of contribution to reggae and Jamaican music, and at the same time, accepted the Emperor of Reggae and World Music honor that was bestowed on her late husband. Rita Marley is well known for her philanthropic efforts. She established the Rita Marley Foundation, which focuses on alleviating poverty and hunger and providing education in Ghana and Jamaica,” he said.

Born in Cuba, Rita Marley started her music career during the 1960s in Kingston, Jamaica. During the 1970s, she was a member of The I Three, her husband’s harmony group, alongside Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt.

She also enjoyed a fruitful solo career, scoring hit songs like Harambe, One Draw and Thank You Lord.

Honoree Attorney Ben Crump – Freedom Fighter Award

Crump rose to national prominence in 2012 as lawyer for Trayvon Martin, the 17 year-old black youth who was controversially killed by a white man while walking through a neighborhood in Sanford, Florida.

Since then, he has been involved in a number of high-profile, racially-charged incidents including the death of George Floyd in Minnesota in May, 2020.

Shelvin L.M. Hall, a director of Martin’s International Director and special honoree nominator, says Crump deserves this recognition.

Attorney Ben Crump

Attorney Crump, the Florida-based attorney, past president of the National Bar Association, has become the voice for the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd — Black people whose deaths at the hands of police and vigilantes sparked a movement in the defense of victims of police shooting across the country. He has won multimillion-dollar settlements in police brutality cases. He has pushed cities to ban no-knock warrants. He told a congressional committee that reform is needed because, “it’s become painfully obvious we have two systems of justice; one for white Americans and one for Black Americans,” Hall stated.

This year, the IRAWMA will honour people in over 40 categories. Teejay, who had a massive hit single in 2023 with Drift, tops the contenders with seven nominations.