Civil Rights Complaint Filed Against George Floyd Memorial Scholarship

White students at North Central University in Minneapolis, where George Floyd’s memorial services were held, have filed a Civil Rights complaint over the scholarship in his name that is earmarked for Black students.

A federal complaint has been filed against North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota, alleging its George Floyd Memorial Scholarship violates the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against non-Black students.

The Legal Insurrection Foundation, a conservative nonprofit focused on free expression and academic freedom, submitted the complaint on Monday to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.

At the center of the dispute are the scholarship’s racial eligibility requirements. To qualify, applicants 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,” according to the university’s guidelines.

The complaint argues that by automatically disqualifying students who do not meet this racial prerequisite, the scholarship runs afoul of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.”

“Discrimination against white applicants is just as unlawful as discrimination against Black or other non-white applicants,” stated the complaint’s authors, civil rights attorney Ameer Benno and Cornell University law professor William Jacobson. “Regardless of NCU’s reasons for sponsoring and promoting the GFMS [scholarship], it is violating Title VI by doing so.”

North Central University has not yet publicly responded to the allegations. The George Floyd Memorial Scholarship was established in 2020 “to contribute toward the educational promise of aspiring young Black American leaders,” according to the university.

Applications remain open for the 2024-25 academic year, with a recipient set to be chosen by June. However, the Legal Insurrection Foundation’s complaint casts legal doubt on the scholarship’s racial eligibility criteria.

While the intentions behind creating an honor for George Floyd may have been well-meaning, the competing interests of racial equity and adhering to federal non-discrimination laws have seemingly collided over this particular scholarship program.

This post was originally published on Defender Network.


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