Support Black women business owners receive becomes basis for discrimination lawsuit

Edward Blum's suit targets a contest by Fearless Fund, founded by Keshia Knight Pulliam, Arian Simone and Ayana Parsons, which awards $20,000 in grants.

A group formed by the same conservative activist who played a crucial role in the U.S. Supreme Court’s June affirmative action ruling is using the support that Black women business owners receive as the basis for a racial discrimination lawsuit.

American Alliance for Equal Rights filed the lawsuit on Wednesday in Atlanta’s federal court, accusing Atlanta-based venture capital firm Fearless Fund of violating Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which prohibits racial discrimination in private contracts, according to Reuters.

The lawsuit focuses on the Fearless Fund’s Fearless Strivers Grant Contest, which offers Black women who own small businesses $20,000 in grants, digital tools to help them build their companies and mentorship opportunities, efforts made in partnership with Mastercard.

Conservative activist Edward Blum, the affirmative action opponent behind the lawsuit challenging the use of race in college admissions considerations, has now filed a lawsuit in Atlanta focused on a grant program that aids Black women business owners. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Edward Blum, an opponent of affirmative action, created the Texas-based American Alliance for Equal Rights. In an interview, Blum stated that the lawsuit was the first of many he intended to file through the alliance to vigorously contest race-based corporate practices.

Blum and the American Alliance for Equal Rights said some of the group’s 60 white and Asian-American members were denied grants because of race.

As a result of lawsuits filed by Students for Fair Admissions, another organization Blum created, the Supreme Court ruled in June that the University of North Carolina’s and Harvard University’s race-conscious student admissions criteria are unlawful.

The conservative-majority court rejected practices many American institutions of higher education employ that use race as one of many considerations in admissions to increase the enrollment of Black, Hispanic and some other minority students. Blum’s organization alleged the programs discriminated against white and Asian-American candidates.

Blum, who is white, said he intended to base the new group’s lawsuits on that successful legal action.

“The common theme of these organizations is to challenge in the courts the use of racial classifications and preferences in our nation’s policies,” said Blum, Reuters reported.

The outlet said the Fearless Fund did not immediately comment on the lawsuit.

Actress Keshia Knight Pulliam, entrepreneur Arian Simone and corporate executive Ayana Parsons founded the Fearless Fund in 2019. In addition to Mastercard, it has received funding from Costco Wholesale, Bank of America, General Mills and JPMorgan Chase.

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