By Michael Warren, The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) – The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund launched a $ 40 million scholarship program on Monday to support a new generation of civil rights lawyers dedicated to advancing racial justice in the South.
The fund plans to place 50 students through law schools across the country, with a gift from a single anonymous donor. In return, they must commit to eight years of racial justice work in the South, starting with a two-year postgraduate fellowship at a civil rights organization.
“The donor came to us,” said Sherilyn Ifill, president of the Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The donor wanted to support the development of civil rights lawyers in the South. And we have a little experience with it. “
Indeed, the LDF has been supporting civil rights lawyers since its inception by Thurgood Marshall in 1940, during an era when black people were effectively under no legal representation and black students were turned away from southern universities Was. It funded the creation of black and interracial law firms in several southern states in the 1960s and 1970s and has since formed a network of lawyers.
Reflecting the urgency of these times, Nidhi has set an application deadline on February 16, giving the first-year law school students on the occasion less than a month to make their case for the opportunity is.
Ifil said, “Without question that we are in a moment of crisis in this country, we are also in a moment of this possibility.” “The elements for change are very much present in the South, and what needs to be strengthened is the capacity of law.”
The NAACP chose Martin Luther King Day to announce the Marshall-Motley Scholars Program, named for Supreme Court Justice and Constance Baker Motley, an LDF attorney a few years before Columbia University Law School, when she made an initial complaint Had written The Court’s Brown v. Board of Education outlined racial segregation in public schools. She later became the first black female federal judge.
“In a statement supporting this program, the Rev. Bernice Raja said,” Our country is plagued with racial injustice, and we need non-violent warriors who are ready on all fronts to deal with it and especially equipped on the legal front Huh. “This will allow the LDF to make greater progress on behalf of the black community for generations to come in the field of racial justice, as they did during the movement led by my parents.”
New York-Beded LDF, which has offices in Washington, also announced on Monday that it would open a regional office in Atlanta, which would try afresh to fulfill the promise of that 1954 rule. “We still have the largest designation dock outside the Department of Justice,” said LDF Associate Director Janai Nelson.
Nelson said educational inequality, voting barriers, racial and economic injustice, the police crisis and the resurgence of ultra-white supremacy are some of the challenges that these lawyers will have to face. Especially violent history that has revived. “
The NAACP shared a statement from Justice 92-year-old widow, Cissy Marshall, who said the fund is particularly meaningful to her “because of the powerful partnership with lawyers south of Thergood that co-advocates with her on so many results” Served as a civil rights issue. “
And the late judge’s son, Joel Motley, said he was happy that his mother’s legacy would live on through “well-trained and committed litigators” who would “protect the rights of black people throughout the South, creating structures of white supremacy.” Will finish
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