The city of Asheville, N.C., agreed to remove all race-based eligibility provisions from a city-funded scholarship program and grant in a settlement with conservative legal group Judicial Watch.
The federal civil rights lawsuit was filed in October 2021 in the North Carolina Western District Court on behalf of a state group, Citizens for Equality, Inc. High school student members of the organization were unable to receive an Asheville scholarship "only because they are not Black," according to Judicial Watch.
In May 2021, the city of Asheville established a scholarship fund for local students which was "awarded in perpetuity to Black high school students within Asheville City Schools, with special consideration given for Black students pursuing a career in education."
The City Council resolved the lawsuit Tuesday by voting to prohibit discrimination based on "race, natural hair or hairstyles, ethnicity, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or ancestry, marital or familiar status, pregnancy, veteran status, religious belief or non-belief, age or disability."
The racial requirements were also removed from a grant for Asheville educators and school faculty.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said the city "did the right thing in quickly ending these indefensible race-based scholarship programs."
He added: "This federal lawsuit and the resulting remarkable settlement should serve as a wakeup call to those activists and allied politicians pushing the extremist leftist agenda to segregate and discriminate based on race."
Asheville has previously run into racial controversies. The City Council unanimously voted for a "reparations initiative" that gave "funding to programs geared toward increasing homeownership and business and career opportunities for Black residents," The New York Times reported.