Civil Rights entities receive donation from New York law firm

Inside the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is the door from the jail cell where Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” Photo courtesy of Alabama Tourism Department/Jamie Martin.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Equal Justice Initiative, EJI’s Legacy Museum, Fisk University and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law have received a donation of $6 million from Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP of New York.

The donation is funded from attorneys’ fees awarded to Cravath at the conclusion of one of the firm’s pro bono matters, a nearly 40-year commitment to representing African American and female plaintiffs in employment discrimination litigation in Jefferson County. The case was brought by the NAACP in 1974 and, at the request of the National Lawyers’ Committee, Cravath took on the representation of the plaintiffs in 1983.

“As we reflect on the culmination of four decades of effort to make real the promise of civil rights reforms in Jefferson County, Alabama, we feel privileged to carry forward that commitment by supporting the work of each of these remarkable organizations,” said Faiza Saeed, Cravath’s presiding partner.

Personnel at Cravath contributed more than 100,000 hours on the case.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute was founded in 1992 and provides cultural and educational research that promotes the significance of civil rights development in Birmingham.

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The Equal Justice Initiative, founded in 1989, works to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment, challenge racial and economic injustice and protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in society. The Legacy Museum opened in Montgomery in 2018 to address both the legacy of slavery and serve as an engine for education about racial inequality.

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