Conservative activist Edward Blum, known for opposing affirmative action, has filed a lawsuit against Fearless Fund, an Atlanta-based venture capital firm that supports Black women entrepreneurs.
Blum’s nonprofit organization, the American Alliance for Equal Rights, claims that Fearless Fund’s grant competition, which exclusively targets Black women business owners, violates Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, Reuters reported.
Blum has a history of opposing affirmative action policies, including his previous legal challenges against universities’ race-conscious admissions practices. This led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in June 2023, which declared such policies unlawful.
Fearless Fund, founded in 2019 by three Black women—actress Keshia Knight Pulliam, entrepreneur Arian Simone, and corporate executive Ayana Parsons—aims to narrow the gap in venture capital funding for women of color entrepreneurs.
Pulliam played Cosby’s youngest daughter, Rudy Huxtable, on the long-running TV series “The Cosby Show.”
Its Fearless Strivers Grant Contest is at the center of the current lawsuit. It awards Black women-owned small businesses with $20,000 in grants and valuable digital tools to help grow their enterprises. It also provides mentorship opportunities in partnership with Mastercard.
According to the American Alliance for Equal Rights lawsuit, since Fearless Fund exclusively focuses on Black women business owners it constitutes racial discrimination under Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The Act prohibits racial bias in private contracts. Blum’s group argues that the grant contest unlawfully excludes individuals based on race.
Supporters of Fearless Fund’s initiative assert that the grant competition seeks to address historical disadvantages Black women face in business. They argue that the program’s targeted approach empowers an underrepresented group, promoting diversity and leveling the playing field in an industry where minority entrepreneurs often face significant challenges in accessing capital.
The fund’s investments have allowed recipients to expand their operations and increase their visibility; overcoming hurdles they might have otherwise encountered due to financial limitations.
For nearly four years, the Fearless Fund has awarded various businesses with the funding and tools needed to succeed and grow across various industries where Black-owned businesses aren’t always afforded the same resources as their white counterparts, Afrotech reported.
Blum claims that approximately 60 members of his group, who are white and Asian American, “have been excluded from the grant program due to their race.” He also warned that the current lawsuit against the Fearless Fund is the first of many that he aims to pursue through his American Alliance for Equal Rights organization against private corporations.
Actress Keshia Knight Pulliam speaks with members of the media during Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., June 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)