The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was founded in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1971 by Morris Dees (photo) and Joseph J. Levin, Jr. as a nonprofit civil rights legal firm. By cherry-picking a relatively few high-profile cases against the Ku Klux Klan, White Aryan Resistance, and Aryan Nations, they have been able to establish themselves in the public eye as the premier champions against violent racism and hate.
The name — Southern Poverty Law Center — conjures images of dedicated and near-penniless lawyers heroically assisting poor rural sharecroppers and destitute inner-city families throughout the deep South in their struggles for justice. Those and similar images, like just about everything else promoted by the SPLC, are fraudulent mirages crafted by the organization’s co-founder and PR genius, Morris Dees.
Millard Fuller, an attorney and partner of Dees in the 1960s, has recalled:
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Photo of Morris Dees: AP Images