The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, who subsequently became the first African American U.S. Supreme Court Justice, LDF was launched at a time when the nation’s aspirations for equality and due
process of law were stifled by widespread, state-sponsored racial inequality. From that era to the present, LDF’s mission has always been transformative: to achieve racial justice, equality, and an inclusive society.
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. Working in four inter-related focus areas—Political Participation, Criminal Justice Reform, Economic Justice, and Education Equity—
LDF seeks to:
This is a perilous time for our country, with unrest occurring nationwide as the decades-long issue of police violence against African Americans is back in the spotlight. Federal and local governments’ responses have further perpetuated this violence, allowing police officers to engage in heavy-handed, militaristic actions against peaceful protesters
decrying these injustices. LDF’s Policing Reform Campaign works to eliminate racial bias and profiling in policing and end police violence against citizens. The Campaign monitors police conduct in cities throughout the country and ceaselessly works to ensure that government officials keep communities safe, hold law enforcement officers accountable for misconduct, and improve policing tactics overall. Additionally, LDF has recently published our Police
Funding Database, which provides information on police misconduct complaints, consent decrees, and settlement amounts so communities can be supported in their demands for accountability.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, LDF has shifted significant resources to addressing the potentially catastrophic damage to the communities it serves. Indeed, LDF was compelled to open an entirely new front of litigation, research, and strategic communications focused on protecting the rights of African Americans, who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. This work includes ensuring that school closures do not derail the education, health, and well-being of our children; calling for the suspension of evictions and utility shut-offs; protecting the health and safety of those in prisons, jails, and detention centers; and safeguarding upcoming elections and the safety of voters and poll workers.
Since early March, LDF has filed lawsuits against Alabama, Louisiana, and South Carolina, as well as an emergency amicus brief in Texas related to election practices that put voters at risk during the pandemic. These states have restrictive requirements surrounding absentee ballots and curbside voting that would force voters to cast their ballots
in-person, potentially putting millions at risk of contracting COVID-19. Since LDF filed these lawsuits, South Carolina’s absentee ballot witness signature requirement, which we challenged in our filing, has been blocked. We are hopeful other states will follow suit in amending their voting procedures, and we remain committed to protecting the rights and safety of all voters.
For more information, please visit: www.naacpldf.org
LDF has been entirely separate from the NAACP since 1957.