Anonymous donor gifts $40M to NAACP to focus on civil rights work

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund has created a new scholarship program for people who are willing to dedicate their post graduate careers on civil rights and racial justice work, at least for a decade, thanks to a generous donation of $40 million.  

Recipients of the new Marshall-Motley Scholars Program will have their legal education fully funded if they dedicate two years to a fellowship, and then at least eight years doing racial justice and civil rights work in the South, according to the Associated Press.

“While without question we are in a perilous moment in this country, we are also in a moment of tremendous possibility, particularly in the South,” Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said in a statement. “The elements for change are very much present in the South, and what needs to be strengthened is the capacity of lawyering.”

The funds will be able to pay the tuition of 50 law students over the next five years. Each year, five students will receive the scholarship that covers the cost of room, board and incidentals, reported. 

“The donor came to us,” Ifill said. “The donor very much wanted to support the development of civil rights lawyers in the South. And we have a little bit of experience with that.”

The Mashall-Motley Scholar Program was named after former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who started the NAACP in 1940, and Constance Baker Motley, a NAACP lawyer who wrote the complaint that led to the court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling which outlawed racial segregation in public schools. She later became the first Black woman federal judge in the U.S.