Ayana K. Parsons of The Fearless Fund speaks during a town hall at the Congressional Black Caucus's 52nd Annual Legislative Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Thursday, September 21, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

Tuesday, a U.S. Federal Court Judge in Atlanta blocked a request from Edward Blum’s American Alliance for Equal Rights for a preliminary injunction which sought to prevent the Fearless Fund from considering applications for grants only from businesses led by Black women.

According to the ruling, U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash’s decision was made with one assertion: That Fearless’ charitable grant program was a form of speech protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, a belief that Blum’s group; the American Alliance for Equal Rights, says the ruling “would obliterate nondiscrimination law.”

Earlier in the day, The Reverend Al Sharpton hosted a rally outside of the Richard B. Russell Federal Building pledging his support behind the right to support the Black community.

“We are not trying to discriminate. We’re trying to correct historic discrimination,” said Sharpton. “And as these two women from the Fearless Fund, have done, is seed into black women that have been denied.”

Upon Judge Thrash’s ruling, Blum has filed an appeal. It asserts that The Fearless Fund only supports Black-women owned businesses and excludes other races based upon Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, a U.S. law that forbids racial bias in private contracts, by making only Black women eligible in a grant competition. 

Fearless’ contest discriminates based on race. It prohibits Asians, Hispanics, and all other non-black applicants from participating. Indeed, Fearless boasts that the contest is “open only to black females,” and instructs that only “black females” need apply.

American Alliance for Equal Rights v. Fearless Fund Management LLC, Page 5 (11th Cir. 2023)

“We realize there is still a long road ahead, but today we remain fearless and steadfast in creating pathways that empower women of color entrepreneurs,” said Simone and Parsons said in a joint statement.

The Fearless Fund to date has deployed over $26 million to businesses owned by Black women and women of color-owned business. They have also deployed over 350 grants to women of color. Simone promised the Fearless Fund will continue to deploy grants. Additionally, the Fearless Fund counts JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N), Bank of America (BAC.N) and MasterCard (MA.N) as investors.

Ayana K. Parsons, The Reverend Al Sharpton, and Sean “Diddy” Combs pose for photos during a town hall at the Congressional Black Caucus’s 52nd Annual Legislative Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Thursday, September 21, 2023 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice

“I know that the Fearless Fund is the foundation and the incredible work that we have done will continue to go on,” said co-founder Ayana K. Parsons. “And we will continue to be covered, I just want to thank you. Thank you for investing in us and investing in women of color so that we can do this incredible work.”

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...