Anonymous Mystery Donor Drops $40 Million To Launch NAACP Scholarship Program

Screenshot via NAACP LDF/Vimeo

Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund launched a $40 million scholarship program dedicated to helping civil rights lawyers fight for racial justice in the South.

With the extraordinary gift, the fund can potentially put 50 students through law school. Those who receive support from the fund must commit to eight years of racial justice work.

“The donor came to us,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “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.”

“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,” Ifill said. “The elements for change are very much present in the South, and what needs to be strengthened is the capacity of lawyering.”

The LDF was founded by Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in 1940, when it was common for Black students to have difficulty entering school. The LDF is responsible for building networks of lawyers focused on dealing with civil rights issues.

The NAACP shared a statement from Cissy Marshall, Thurgood Marshall’s 92-year-old widow. She said that the fund meant a lot to her “because of Thurgood’s powerful partnership with lawyers across the South who served with him as co-counsel on so many consequential civil rights cases.”

In a statement supporting the program, Rev. Bernice King said that the scholarship program will “allow the LDF to make greater strides on behalf of the Black community for generations to come in the area of racial justice, just as they did during the movement led by my parents.”

Lead image: Screenshot via NAACP LDF/Vimeo.

Patricia Grisafi

Written by Patricia Grisafi