The NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) announced on Monday the launch of the Marshall-Motley Scholars Program, which is intended to provide innovative educational and training opportunities for new civil rights lawyers in the South.
The LDF’s mission is to “achieve racial justice, equality and an inclusive society.” The organization says it works to protect voting rights, ensure equal access to education and police and criminal justice fairness.
The LDF announced that a single unnamed donor contributed $40 million to send 50 attorneys through the program.
The program will pay for full law school tuition and expenses, summer internships, two years of postgraduate fellowships with a racial justice law practice in the South and access to the LDF’s special training programs. In return, those in the program commit to serve eight years as a civil rights lawyer in the South.
“For 80 years, LDF has been at the forefront of developing and supporting many of our nation’s legendary civil rights lawyers and leaders. The Marshall-Motley Scholars Program is the next phase of our commitment to identify and invest in a new generation of brilliant minds who have a deep personal desire to bring about racial justice in the South,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s President and director-counsel.
Ifill said that Black people in the South continuously face impediments to voting, education equity and racial and economic justice.
“The time is ripe once again for LDF to invest in the growth and development of civil rights lawyers in the South,” Ifill said.
The program, which was announced on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, was applauded by King’s daughter Bernice King.
“Our country continues to be plagued with racial injustice, and we need Nonviolent Warriors who are prepared and equipped on all fronts to deal with it — especially on the legal front,” she said. “That is why I wholeheartedly support the launch of the Marshall-Motley Scholars Program by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. This momentous decision by LDF Leadership will help raise up future advocates committed to becoming the champions needed to continue the battles in the courtrooms.”