Fritz Pollard Alliance Calls On Washington Football Club To Change Name

February 10, 2015

by M&S Staff

The Fritz Pollard Alliance (FPA), an influential civil rights organization co-founded by Cyrus Mehri to promote diversity within the National Football League (NFL), called on the Washington Football Club to change its name. Using the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday to make its announcement, the group issued a statement that read in part, “Promoting dignity and respect for all is central to the FPA’s mission, and as such we cannot be silent on this issue.”

The Washington Post, in a front-page piece, spoke to Of Counsel Attorney at Mehri & Skalet and FPA Counsel Jeremi Duru about his research of the controversial team name, noting:

“Duru, author of “Advancing the Ball: Race, Reformation, and the Quest for Equal Coaching Opportunity in the NFL,” reviewed studies on the issue as well as a suit filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in the 1990s that claimed the name and logo were disparaging to Native Americans. He also looked up dictionary definitions that consistently defined the term as a racial slur. “There seemed to be an argument on the [team] side that it wasn’t reasonable to be offended by the use of the word,” Duru said. “My research found that it was quite reasonable to be offended by its use.”

The announcement was met with enthusiasm from the press, with the Los Angeles Times opining:

“So far, Dan Snyder, the unrepentant owner of the Washington Redskins professional football team, has faced down pressure from President Obama, half of the U.S. Senate, some Native Americans,  activists, federal trademark authorities and about 40% of players in the National Football League. But he might finally be facing a force strong enough to make him scrap the racial epithet that is his team’s name. That force is the Fritz Pollard Alliance, a little-known organization that was instrumental in forcing the NFL into more diversification in their coaching and front-office hires.”

Read more coverage in Associated Press, Sports IllustratedNBC Sports, and Huffington Post.


We’re pleased to announce the return of Danielle Davis to the M&S team as an Associate Attorney. Danielle was the firm’s first Find Justice Fellow, from September 2009 through July 2011.  As a Fellow, she worked in all areas of the firm’s practice.  As an Associate Attorney, her practice will focus on cases involving discrimination, civil and consumer rights violations, and Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) violations. Danielle received her law degree from Howard University in 2009 and served as a Senior Judicial Law Clerk to the Honorable Brian A. Jackson, Chief Judge, United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana.  She also served as Law Clerk to the Honorable Karen Wells Roby, United States Magistrate Judge, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. You can read more about Danielle’s background here.