Forty-eight years ago, SPLC founder Morris Dees stood at the Alabama Capitol at the end of the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march and heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak on the importance of the vote in democracy. In his view, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — the section that contains extra voting rights protections that apply mainly to the South — is still necessary.
I was in court with Barbara Anderson Young this week when three of the white teens who beat, ran over and killed her brother last June in a Mississippi parking lot pleaded guilty to murder and hate crimes. Those three now face life sentences in prison.
By urging the prosecutor in Jackson, Miss., to not seek the death penalty for those responsible for the vicious killing of James Anderson, his family members have taken a noble position and made a clear statement that, while they seek justice, they are not out for revenge.
Fifty years ago this month, Harper Lee published her American classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Set in the Deep South in the 1930s, the poignant story of racial injustice remains timeless. Its influence on my decision to take up civil rights law was profound.