A huge monetary gift from an anonymous donor has enabled the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) to launch a $40 million scholarship program fostering a new generation of civil rights lawyers to pursue racial justice across the South.

The Marshall-Motley Scholars Program, named for iconic civil rights lawyers Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley, will put 50 students through law school, and those students in return must commit to eight years of racial justice work in the South, the NAACP announced this week. The application deadline is Feb. 16.

“The donor came to us,” said LDF President Sherrilyn Ifill, USA Today reported. “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 LDF has backed civil rights lawyers since its founding by Marshall in 1940, during an era when Black people rarely had effective legal representation and Black students were turned away from Southern universities, according to the NAACP.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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