Bias case proceeds to aid non-profit

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley came to Dorchester on Tuesday to distribute proceeds from the settlement of a civil rights investigation that have been directed to four Boston-based educational organizations.

Speaking at the Freedom House in Grove Hall, Coakley and City Councillor-at-large Ayanna Pressley said $28,500 in grants would be issued to Freedom House, the United Negro College Fund, Bottom Line, Inc. and Cambridge College following a settlement with nightclub management group Paige Hospitality.

The settlement resolves allegations that staff at the Cure Lounge, located in downtown Boston and managed by Paige Hospitality, suddenly shut down an event last November following a Harvard-Yale football game because the majority of attendees were black.

The settlement called for the company to contribute funds to organizations that support African-American students seeking higher education, as well as a public apology posted on the club’s website for the next thirty days and mandatory anti-discrimination training for all staff at the Cure Lounge.

The apology states, “The owners, managers and employees of Cure Lounge wish to extend our deepest apologies to all of those affected, both directly and indirectly, by the unfortunate events that occurred on the evening of November 20, 2010...Cure Lounge will do everything in its power to ensure that the events of November 20 will not be repeated.”

Coakley called the settlement a way to “make good news out of an otherwise ugly incident.”

The incident was first brought to the Attorney General’s office by Pressley, who serves as vice chair of Boston’s Arts, Film, Humanities & Tourism Committee. Pressley said the investigation was an important step towards making downtown clubs a more inviting environment for Boston’s black community.

“[The investigation and settlement] puts places of public accommodation on notice,” Pressley said. “There’s nothing trivial about making Boston a more welcoming place.”

All four organizations received grants ranging from $5,000 to $8,000 and are earmarked for programs that encourage youths to pursue higher education.

Freedom House CEO Gail Snowden said the proceeds would help fund the Push program, which prepares graduating high school seniors for college course loads and responsibilities during the summer months and would play a key role in the lives of many Dorchester teens.

“The commitment of the attorney general’s office to invest in helping young people graduate from college will have a positive ripple effect for families and for the community,” Snowden said.