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Cooper, Brandon

Educational Law Legal Standards

Discrimination based on skin color, or colorism, is a form of prejudice or discrimination in which human beings are treated differently based on the social meanings attached to skin color. Colorism, a term coined by Alice Walker in 1982, is not a synonym of racism.

The Equal Protection Clause is part of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The clause, which took effect in 1868, provides that no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction "the equal protection of the laws".

Affirmative Action an action or policy favoring those who tend to suffer from discrimination, especially in relation to employment or education; positive discrimination.

  • Strict scrutiny is the most stringent standard of judicial review used by United States courts. It is part of the hierarchy of standards that courts use to determine which is weightier, a constitutional right or principle or the government's interest against observance of the principle.
    • The compelling state interest test, and the doctrine of strict scrutiny of which it is a part, are only two of a host of techniques by which the Supreme Court, since the New Deal, has bifurcated judicial review into heightened protection for favored rights and minimal protection for the rest.


  • The law or policy must be narrowly tailored to achieve that goal or interest. If the government action encompasses too much (overbroad) or fails to address essential aspects of the compelling interest, then the rule is not considered narrowly tailored.

Brown v. Board of Education

NAACP and Reporting Racial Discrimination

The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.

Vision Statement
The vision of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race.

The following statement of objectives is found on the first page of the NAACP Constitution - the principal objectives of the Association shall be:

  • To ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of all citizens
  • To achieve equality of rights and eliminate race prejudice among the citizens of the United States
  • To remove all barriers of racial discrimination through democratic processes
  • To seek enactment and enforcement of federal, state, and local laws securing civil rights
  • To inform the public of the adverse effects of racial discrimination and to seek its elimination
  • To educate persons as to their constitutional rights and to take all lawful action to secure the exercise thereof, and to take any other lawful action in furtherance of these objectives, consistent with the NAACP's Articles of Incorporation and this Constitution.

The first step to starting a racial discrimination investigation is to file a complaint with the local city or state chapter of the NAACP's Legal redress committee. 

The Legal Redress Committee shall: (1) investigate all cases reported to it; (2) supervise all litigation in which the branch is interested and; (3) keep the national office and the branch informed on the progress of every case. It shall not give legal advice.


The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. is America's premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans. LDF also defends the gains and protections won over the past 75 years of civil rights struggle and works to improve the quality and diversity of judicial and executive appointments.

LDF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. View our Annual ReportNAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. IRS Form 990, and Earl Warren Legal Training Program IRS Form 990 and our  2015 Audited Financial Statement.

What We Do

Working in the four key areas of  Criminal Justice, Economic Justice, Education, and Political Participation,  LDF seeks to:

  • Diminish the role of race in the criminal justice system and the role of the criminal justice system in community life;
  • Increase fairness and African-American participation in all aspects of economic life;
  • Increase equity in education and eliminate tolerance for schools that fail students; and
  • Achieve full African-American civic engagement and participation in the democratic process.

Among its current priorities, LDF seeks to ensure that the job selection process does not negatively impact African-Americans, reduce employment barriers to those with criminal records, decrease disproportionate incarceration and sentencing as well as racially biased exercise of discretion by police and prosecutors, increase equity in education by increasing graduation rates (K-12 and college) among African-Americans, foster adoption of racially equitable and research-based approaches to school discipline, achieve more African-American engagement and fairness in the next round of redistricting, and ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act, NVRA, and other voting rights laws.

LDF works both through the courts and through advocacy to the executive and legislative branches, educational outreach, monitoring of federal and state government activity, coalition building and policy research. Additionally, through its scholarship, fellowship, and internship programs, LDF helps students to attend and graduate from many of the nation’s best colleges, universities, and law schools and to develop a lasting commitment to racial justice and public service.

National Bar Association

Legions of African-American lawyers affiliated with the National Bar Association ushered in the rule of law through the turbulent 1920s and 1930s, R.D. Evans, for example, who later became a member of the National Bar Association, tried the first case in Waco, Texas, to prevent the Democratic Party from forbidding "colored people" to vote in election primaries in 1919. From the 1920s through the 1950s, African-American lawyers such as the Honorable James A. Cobb, T. Gillis Nutter, and Ashbie Hawkins fought the famous segregation case of Louisville, and the Covenants case of The District of Columbia. Early National Bar Association pioneers S.D. McGill, R.P. Crawford, and J.L. Lewis fought to have sentences of execution stayed in the Florida case popularly referred to as the "Four Pompano Boys." Wherever there was a fight to wage in defense of the rights of Blacks and poor people, the NBA was there.

When the number of African-American lawyers barely exceeded 1,000 nationwide, the National Bar Association attempted to establish "free legal clinics in all cities with a colored population of 5,000 or more." The National Bar Association was ahead of the "War on Poverty" programs of the 1960s, which gave birth to federal legal aid to the indigent. Members of the National Bar Association were leaders of the pro bono movement at a time when they could least afford to provide free legal services and before poverty law became profitable. When the Supreme Court outlawed school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education, the National Bar Association was only 25 years old. This decision culminated a long struggle by African-American lawyers. Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American United States Supreme Court Justice, and United States District court Judge Constance Baker Motley, the first African-American female federal judge, are two outstanding jurists who helped make Brown v. Board of Education a pivotal case in American Civil Rights history. Through continuing service, the National Bar Association has become known as America's legal conscience.

For the National Bar Association, 1978 - 1979 proved to be the "Year of Affirmative Action." In the wake of Bakke v. Regents of the University of California, the organization addressed pressing issues laid bare by this momentous decision. The National Bar Association gained international recognition for efforts on behalf of the disenfranchised and politically oppressed people of the world. March of 1981 saw the first National Bar Association Legislative Conference. The 1981 - 1982 bar year commenced on a historical note: Arnette R. Hubbard assumed leadership of the National Bar Association, making her the first woman president of a major bar association.

In May 1982, the National Bar Association named its mid-year dinner in honor of Gertrude E. Rush, the organization's only woman co-founder. The Gertrude E. Rush Award Dinner past honorees include: Ret. Gen. Julius Becton; Thomas Berkley, Esq., publisher of California's Post Newspaper; Hon. Jane Bolin, the nation’s first African-American female judge; poetess Gwendolyn Brooks; Hon. Willie L. Brown, Jr., Mayor of San Francisco; Hon. Shirley Chisholm; Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr., Esq.; Hon. George W. Crockett, Jr.; Major General (Retired) Kenneth Gray; Rev. Jesse Jackson; Hon. Maynard H. Jackson; Hon. Barbara C. Jordan; Hon. Kweisi Mfume; Hon. Charles B. Rangel; Hon. Rodney Slater; Hon Maxine Waters; and Hon. L. Douglas Wilder. In 1986, the NBA Hall of Fame was inaugurated by then-President Fred D. Gray, Sr. to honor those lawyers who have been licensed to practice for 40 years or more, and who have made significant contribution to the cause of justice. Several prominent National Bar Association members have been inducted into the Hall of Fame over the past few years. These inductees include: Hon. Louis Stokes; Cora T. Walker, Esq.; Hon. William Cousins, Jr.; and Hon. L. Clifford Davis.

In 1989, the first Annual Wiley A. Branton Award Luncheon and Issues Symposium was held in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Symposium, established as a tribute to Wiley A. Branton, a stalwart in the Civil Rights arena, was first held in his hometown. Since 1989, the National Bar Association has used this Symposium as an avenue to discuss pressing social, legal, and political issues affecting our communities. The Wiley A. Branton Award Luncheon honorees include: Hon. Dennis W. Archer; Hon. James E. Clyburn; Marilyn Crawford; Fred D. Gray, Esq.; Hon. Eugene Hamilton; Dr. Dorothy Irene Height; Hon. Earl F. Hillard; Elaine Jones, Esq.; Tom Joyner; Hon. Janet Reno; and H.T. Smith, Esq.

In 1992, the National Bar Association submitted comments to the proposed "incubator" program described by the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) in its Memorandum Opinion and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making, FCC 92-361, released September 4, 1992. In that same year, comments were also submitted in response to the Notice of Proposal Policy Guidance issued by the United States Department of Education and published in the Federal Register on December 1, 1991. 
In 1996, the National Bar Association submitted comments before the (FCC) in the Matter of Streamlining Broadcast EEO Rules and Policies, Vacating the EEO Forfeiture Policy Statement and Amending Section 1.80 of the Commission's Rules to Include EEO Forfeiture Guidelines. Also in 1996, the National Bar Association submitted an amicus curiae brief in Sloan et al v. United States of America (Docket No. 96-8145) to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. The focus of this case was the racially disparate impact of the enforcement of the federal "cocaine base distinction."

Today, the National Bar Association is the nation's oldest and largest national association of predominantly African-American lawyers, judges educators and law students. It has 84 affiliate chapters throughout the United States and affiliations in Canada, the United Kingdom, Africa Morocco and the Caribbean. It represents a professional network of more than 60,000 lawyers, judges, educators and law students.

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