An Atlanta federal appeals court has suspended a grants program for Black women-run businesses.
According to ABC News, the program addressed corporate diversity policies and their impact on Black women.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision on Saturday will temporarily stop the Fearless Fund, which invests in businesses led by women of color needing pre-seed, seed level or series A financing, from running its Striver Grant Contest. The contest awards $20,000 to companies at least 51% owned by Black women and meet other requirements.
Fearless Fund shared a statement on Sunday, saying it plans to comply with the court’s decision and is confident it won’t detriment its mission.
“We strongly disagree with the decision and remain resolute in our mission and commitment to address the unacceptable disparities that exist for Black women and other women of color in the venture capital space,” the Fearless Fund said.
The case was brought to court by the American Alliance for Equal Rights. The group, run by conservative activist Edward Blum, argued the fund violates a section of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 that bars racial discrimination in contracts.
The decision reversed a ruling made on Sept. 26 by U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash, which denied the American Alliance’s request to stop the program. The new decision by the majority of the three-judge panel deemed the fund “racially exclusionary.”
“The members of the American Alliance for Equal Rights are gratified that the 11th Circuit has recognized the likelihood that the Fearless Strivers Grant Contest is illegal,” Blum said in a statement. “We look forward to the final resolution of this lawsuit.”
The Fearless Fund, founded in 2019, has procured the services of several civil rights lawyers, including Ben Crump, to handle its defense.