WASHINGTON, D.C. – On March 26, 2013, financier and philanthropist George Soros announced a pledge of $1,000,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) in support of new Director Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill and the organization’s civil rights agenda. This generous pledge, a Chairman’s grant from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, is among the largest one-time gifts in recent LDF history.
“We need bold and courageous civil rights strategies if we are to achieve racial equality in this country,” Soros stated. Lauding Ifill’s “strategic vision, courage and immense commitment to justice,” Soros described Ifill as “a leader who can meet the challenges of our times and galvanize others in support of a 21st century civil rights agenda. She is a tour de force.”
Founded by pioneering civil rights attorney and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, LDF secured the landmark victory in Brown v. Board of Education. Since Brown, LDF has championed groundbreaking impact litigation, most recently arguing on behalf of black voters in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, a case challenging the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ifill, a former LDF staff attorney and law professor, served as Board Chair for U.S. Programs for Soros’ Open Society Foundations for two years before taking the helm of NAACP LDF.
LDF Board of Directors Co-chairs, David Mills, a philanthropist and law professor at Stanford Law School, and Gerald Adolph, a senior partner at management consulting firm Booz & Company, expressed their gratitude for Soros’ gift.
“We welcome Mr. Soros to the LDF family and we are gratified by his statement of confidence in LDF and in our new President-Director Counsel. We are committed as a Board to matching and even exceeding his generous contribution. The work of LDF remains critical to our achieving a just and open society,” they said in a statement.
Ifill echoed their deep gratitude to Soros for his generosity and pledged to match his gift with her own fundraising for LDF around the country.
“LDF is a great American institution that remains vigorously engaged in the fight for justice in the areas of voting rights, access to economic and educational opportunity and in challenging injustice in the criminal justice system” Ifill said. “This generous gift and our board’s match will enable us to maintain the standard of excellence for which LDF is well-known and will help to fuel the next phases of this important civil rights work.”
Read more on this generous gift in the New York Times.