George Floyd Memorial Scholarship sued for discriminating against students who are not Black

BY Preta Peace Namasaba April 5, 2024 2:53 PM EDT
North Central University (NCU) is being sued for discriminating against students who are not Black. Photo credit: NCU

The George Floyd Memorial Scholarship offered at North Central University (NCU) in Minneapolis is being sued for discriminating against students who are not Black. The federal complaint accuses the institution of violating the Civil Rights Act. This lawsuit marks a series of consistent attacks on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in America.

The scholarship was created in 2020 “to contribute toward the educational promise of aspiring young black American leaders.” It is named after George Floyd, the Black man whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police sparked a global protest in 2020. According to the university, an applicant must “be a student who is Black or African American, that is, a person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa,” to be eligible for the scholarship. Students who do not meet the prerequisite racial category are automatically ineligible for the scholarship.

“It is time to invest like never before in a new generation of young Black Americans who are poised and ready to take leadership in our nation. So, university presidents, let’s step up together,” Scott Hagan, North Central University President said while announcing the scholarship at the Minneapolis memorial service for Floyd.

But the Legal Insurrection Foundation, a conservative nonprofit, has filed a legal complaint against NCU with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. The foundation says its mission is to be an advocate for the advancement of free expression and academic freedom on college campuses. It alleges that the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship is violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.

“The George Floyd Scholarship eligibility requirements are openly racially discriminatory. Regardless of the purpose of the racial discrimination, it is wrong and unlawful.” William Jacobson, founder of The Legal Insurrection Foundation told Fox News.

The complaint further says the public institution is discriminating against non-Black students, including those who identify as white, Hispanic, or Asian, from being considered for the scholarship. It claims the scholarship may have criminal consequences as it “defies the civil rights protections of Minnesota’s Human Rights Act, which makes it a criminal offense for an educational institution to limit access to any educational program based on race.” The foundation’s leadership has proposed a plan that would compensate students shut out of the George Floyd Scholarship due to discrimination.

The foundation cites the Supreme Court’s controversial decision that ended affirmative action admission policies at colleges and universities in 2023. The Supreme Court decided that the race-conscious admissions systems of Harvard College and the University of North Carolina (UNC) were unconstitutional. The two Black justices, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and Clarence Thomas sitting in the court disagreed with each other. While Thomas argued that Black people should be treated as the sum of their experiences and challenges, Jackson wrote, “Our country has never been colorblind.”

The George Floyd Memorial Scholarship continues to accept applications for the 2024-25 academic school year as the lawsuit is pending.