Since its founding in 1896, the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) has restricted its membership to direct male descendants of Confederate veterans of the Civil War. The SCV has long claimed to be interested only in Civil War remembrance, and in fact passed an official resolution condemning hate groups in 1990.
Still, it has also had, and still does have, a number of prominent members with white supremacist leanings. In 1996, Peter W. Orlebeke, the SCV's then-leader, said that slavery could be defended biblically, and wasn't really so bad: "[T]here have been times that I wish someone had said to me, 'I'll give you a job for the rest of your life.' " Today, although there are divisions within the SCV, its publications have clearly become more strident.
The April issue of Alabama Confederate, for instance, included articles by key members of the League of the South, along with a condemnation of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation as unconstitutional.
Prominent SCV members include Michael Andrew Grissom, author of Southern by the Grace of God and a member of two white supremacist groups, the League of the South and the Council of Conservative Citizens; Donald and Walter Kennedy, charter League members; Jared Taylor, editor of the racist American Renaissance magazine; and Kirk Lyons, a long-time white supremacist lawyer.
Asked about Lyons, SCV Commander-in-Chief Patrick J. Griffin told the Intelligence Report: "If Kirk has become controversial outside of the SCV, I would just view that as part of his personal life." The League has lauded the apparent change in SCV attitudes, saying in 1998 that the SCV "old guard" was on its way out and "the organization appears to be ready to work with us as a fellow pro-South group."
Southern Legal Resource Center
Black Mountain, N.C.
The Southern Legal Resource Center (SLRC), whose "chief trial counsel" is white supremacist Kirk Lyons, has in effect become the legal arm of the neo-Confederate movement.
Billing itself as a defender against "heritage violations" — attacks on the culture and symbols of the old South — the SLRC formed in 1996 with the same office, phone number and many of the personnel of Lyons' predecessor group, the racist CAUSE foundation.
When the SLRC was created, the League of the South exulted, "Dixie's answer to the ACLU has now formed!" Today, the League still solicits contributions for the nonprofit SLRC.
The executive director of the SLRC is Lourie A. Salley III, a member of the speaker's bureau of the League's South Carolina chapter (that chapter's Web site describes Salley as a specialist on the legal and constitutional grounds for partition of the United States).
The SLRC is mainly run by Lyons and his brother-in-law Neill Payne, and it has handled a number of cases involving the Confederate battle flag. But controversy has dogged the SLRC in Oklahoma and Georgia because of Lyons' extremist background.
The SLRC has worked closely with the League, the Heritage Preservation Association, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and an array of other Confederate flag defenders.
Southern Military Institute
Under the direction of Michael J. Guthrie, the Southern Military Institute (SMI) is a proposed four-year, all-male college that has an office and Web site but is still in the planning and fundraising stages.
Guthrie, a member of the racist League of the South and a frequent speaker at neo-Confederate events, was a featured speaker at a December gathering of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens in Huntsville, Ala., where he asked for financial support.
Michael Hill, head of the League, heavily promoted the planned institute in a 1997 article in Chronicles magazine. SMI was planned largely as a reaction to the admission of women at two formerly all-male military schools, The Citadel and the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), and VMI graduates like Guthrie have been instrumental in the effort.
SMI's announced purpose is training "young men for service to God, their state and their nation." SMI also "seeks to honor and support the best of Southern traditions."
The Southern Party
The Southern Party is a political party that began, essentially, as a project of the League of the South. Fifteen League members formed the bulk of the Southern Party Exploratory Committee, and the League sponsored the party's first meeting. The party's current "rebmaster" (Webmaster) is George Kalas, who had served the League earlier in the same capacity.
Recently, however, a dispute arose between the League and the new party over the degree of the party's centralization, leading League president Michael Hill to pull out of the party's first convention this summer. That convention was held in Charleston, S.C., to counter an NAACP boycott of the state over its continued flying of the Confederate battle flag over the state Capitol (it has since been removed).
Speakers included former militia figure J.J. Johnson and Donald Kennedy, co-author of The South Was Right! The Southern Party says the South is defined by its "historically European ... ethnic, linguistic and cultural core," and adds that this white "cultural majority represents the true fusion of blood kinship and an historic homeland that defines what the Southern nation is."
It has state-level affiliates in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
United Daughters of the Confederacy
Formed in 1894 from the remnants of local memorial associations affiliated with Confederate veterans camps, the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) is open only to women related to Confederate veterans of what the UDC still calls the "War Between the States."
Although the UDC promotes an image of genteel Southern ladies concerned only with honoring their ancestors — and is, in fact, the least political of the neo-Confederate groups — its publications sometimes belie that benign appearance.
In a 1989 article in UDC Magazine, for instance, Walter W. Lee minimized the horrors of the Middle Passage by pointing out that "the sixteen inches of deck space allotted each slave is not all that smaller than the eighteen inches the Royal Navy allowed for each sailor's hammock and the slaves rapidly had more room due the much higher death rate."
Lee also argued that "the worse suffering group among those engaged in the trade" were "the crews of slave ships." Other victims of slavery Lee cites are "the purchasers of slaves" who "found themselves locked into a form of agriculture that could not compete with the new machines."
Other UDC articles praise an array of neo-Confederate ideologues such as Michael Andrew Grissom, author of Southern by the Grace of God (a book which portrays the original Klan favorably) and a member of two racist groups, the Council of Conservative Citizens and the League of the South.
The UDC has also worked directly with these kinds of groups in erecting monuments and staging Confederate battle flag rallies. Most recently, the UDC's president, Mrs. William Wells, shared the podium with League president Michael Hill and white supremacist lawyer Kirk Lyons.