Led by attorney Ben Crump, NAACP Legal Defense Fund
By Stacy M. Brown | NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
A resounding call for justice echoed through the halls of the news conference held in New York as attorneys representing the Atlanta-based Fearless Fund declared their unwavering commitment to fight against a lawsuit they deem both misguided and frivolous.
The venture capital firm, dedicated to dismantling barriers faced by women of color in accessing funding, is facing legal action brought forth by the American Alliance for Equal Rights, a nonprofit helmed by anti-affirmative action activist Edward Blum.
The legal challenge, brought before the U.S. District Court in Atlanta, poses a potential turning point in the ongoing debate over considering race in workplace matters.
A powerhouse legal team, including prominent civil rights advocate Ben Crump, declared they would fight Blum and others, alleging that the Fearless Fund discriminates against non-people of color.
“We stand here not just to defend a cause but to defend the Fearless Fund from the enemies of equality,” Crump said.
Founded in 2019 by three Black women, the Fearless Fund has championed economic empowerment and opportunity for women of color. The fund’s cornerstone initiative, the Fearless Strivers Grant Contest, has provided financial support to Black women entrepreneurs, with awards amounting to as much as $20,000.
However, the American Alliance for Equal Rights argues that the program violates a section of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 that bars racial discrimination in contracts.
The organization claims that some members are being excluded from the contest due to their race, demanding relief from what they perceive as an infringement on their rights.
“Today, the playing field is not level — that is beyond dispute,” emphasized Alphonso David, a civil rights attorney, and President & CEO of The Global Black Economic Forum. “Those targeting Fearless Fund want to propagate a system that privileges some and shuts out most. They want us to pretend that inequities do not exist. They want us to deny our history.”
Crump asserted that “Blum thought they would be the easiest ones to pick off. Oh, was he wrong.’”
Others joining in defense of the Fearless Fund include the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the National Women’s Law Center, and the Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher law firm.
“This attack does not change our mission. In fact, we will remain steadfast in ensuring that the Fearless Fund will continue to empower women of color entrepreneurs,” said Arian Simone, CEO and co-founder of the Fearless Fund.
Backed by industry giants like J.P. Morgan Chase and Mastercard, the Fearless Fund has invested over $26.5 million in businesses led by women of color. They’ve awarded grants totaling more than $3 million to Black women-owned businesses.
“This lawsuit turns civil rights law on its head,” affirmed Jason Schwartz, Partner at Gibson Dunn. “Offering grants to Black women small business owners fill an important void to achieve economic freedom.”
Blum’s claims are baseless and seek to subvert existing law, added Alphonso David, another of the Fearless Fund’s lawyers and president and CEO of the Global Black Economic Forum.
“We are prepared to vigorously defend Fearless Fund and the critical work that they do,” David stated.
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