Originally founded by a group that included many Southern university professors, over the years the group lost its academic luster as it became more explicitly racist. The League denounces the federal government and Northern and Coastal states as part of a materialist and anti-religious society they call The Empire. In recent years, it has increasingly embraced violence, criticized perceived Jewish power and warned black people that they would be defeated in a future race war.
In Its Own Words
"The League is my church. The League is my home. The League is my extended family. I will kill or die for the League."
— Michael Tubbs, Facebook post, 2017
“Somebody needs to say a good word for slavery. Where in the world are the Negroes better off today than in America?”
— Jack Kershaw, League of the South board member, 1998
“[T]he Southern League supports a return to a political and social system based on kith and kin rather than an impersonal state wedded to the idea of the universal rights of man. At its core is a European population.”
— Michael Hill, essay on League of the South website, 2000
“Powerful Jews oppose the assertion of White identity while encouraging the expression of every other identity in order to weaken Whites!”
– Brad Griffin, LOS spokesperson, Twitter, June 29, 2017
“The Browning of America, and my native South, was not something to which I assented, and I surely do not approve of it. It is not what my ancestors intended for me to inherit. But truly I have only myself to blame for this tragic fate. While it was happening I did not do enough to stop it. Now, my children and grandchildren may have to pay the price that will come from being a hated white minority in a majority non-white land. And non-Christian, too, I might add, so I don’t expect any mercy will be shown them.
So whatever time the Lord of Hosts – whom I gladly will serve with all my heart, mind, and strength – may allot for me from here to the end, I pledge to spend fighting to restore the South as White Man’s Land. I do this because I believe the admonition in 1 Timothy 5:8. ‘But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.’ (KJV)
So, in direct contradiction to the politically correct dictates of the current day, I pledge to be a white supremacist, a racist, an anti-Semite, a homophobe, a xenophobe, an Islamophobe, and any other sort of ‘phobe that benefits my people, so help me God!”
– Michael Hill, “Michael Hill: My Pledge of Allegiance,” Aug. 18, 2016
Founded in 1994 as the Southern League (it was forced to change its name after a minor baseball league threatened to sue), the overarching mission of the League of the South (LOS) is to accomplish what the Civil War did not — Southern secession. The first meeting of the LOS featured a group of some 40 men, most of them Southern professors. IThe League was and still is led by Michael Hill, a former British history professor and specialist in Celtic history at Stillman College, a historically black school in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (Hill left his teaching position in 1998.)
Since incepetion the League’s board was dominated by academics. Its unofficial foundational text was Cracker Culture - a book by Hill mentor and conservative history professor Grady McWhiney - which asserts that the South was populated by immigrants from Celtic areas of England and constitutes a culture and population distinct from that of the North.
The LOS grew quickly — “like kudzu,” according to Hill — as white Southerners were attracted by the group’s academic veneer and its initial insistence that it was not racist. Within four years of its creation the League had recruited 4,000 members. Initially, it concentrated on a cultural defense of the South. But it wasn’t long before the group began seriously advocating a second secession, calling for a theocratic form of government and openly advocating a return to “general European cultural hegemony” in the South.
The LOS soon became active in traditional politics. In 1996, it helped orchestrate a successful “Dump Beasley” campaign in South Carolina, where then-Gov. David Beasley, a moderate Republican, supported removing the Confederate battle flag from atop the state Capitol dome. But hints of the group’s future radicalism — the raw anger the League now openly directs at minorities — were evident early in its evolution. A year before the campaign against Beasley, Hill had joined a crowd of angry whites, including some white supremacist professionals, at the funeral of Michael Westerman, a white man murdered by a black youth, ostensibly for flying the Confederate flag on his pickup truck. At that event, according to Tony Horwitz’s book Confederates in the Attic, Hill declared it was “open season” on anyone who dared to question “the illicit rights bestowed on a compliant and deadly underclass that now fulfills a role similar to that of Hitler’s brown-shirted street thugs of the 1930s.” He was referring to black people.
Along with academic members, the LOS included racist hard-liners. One founding member who sat on the board of directors in 2007 before his 2010 death was Jack Kershaw, a lifelong segregationist who once was an official in the anti-integration White Citizens Councils of the 1950s and 1960s and who represented Martin Luther King Jr.’s killer in court. Kershaw never hid his racist views. “Somebody needs to say a good word for slavery,” Kershaw told a reporter in 1998. “Where in the world are the Negroes better off today than in America?”
The League has maintained the Mary Noel Kershaw Foundation in honor of Kershaw since his death in 2010.
The League has also come out against interracial marriage. Hill publicly defended antebellum slavery as “God-ordained” and another League leader described segregation as necessary to racial “integrity” of both races, black and white alike. Hill called for a hierarchal society composed of “superiors, equals and inferiors, each protected in their legal privileges” and attacked egalitarianism as a “fatal heresy.” He said people other than white Christians would be allowed to live in his South, but only if they bowed to “the cultural dominance of the Anglo-Celtic people and their institutions.” Once a largely rhetorical goal, secession became a seriously stated aim.
The SPLC first listed the LOS as a hate group in 2000, when the group claimed some 9,000 members.
The LOS steadily grew more powerful as it entered the 2000s, and for a time it stood at the nexus of the larger neo-Confederate movement. Its ideas about the Anglo-Celtic nature of the South were widely accepted by other pro-South groups, and it worked with other racist groups like the Council of Conservative Citizens to promote rallies supporting the Confederate battle flag. In 2000 the LOS took a leadership role in a huge pro-flag rally in Columbia, South Carolina, and later the same year organized a large pro-flag rally in Montgomery, Alabama, calling for “Southern Cultural Independence” from the rest of the nation.
Remarkably, the LOS has found a few staunch defenders in the major media, particularly former member Robert Stacy McCain. For years, McCain was a key writer at the ultraconservative — but influential — Washington Times. Even after the Intelligence Report exposed McCain’s relationship to the LOS in 2000 — and the fact that he had published sympathetic essays on the group’s website — Times editors kept him on and even assigned him to cover neo-Confederate events. He resigned years later during a purge of extremist personnel at the newspaper.
Within days of the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes in New York City and Washington, D.C., Hill suggested that the attacks were deserved, “the natural fruits of a regime committed to multiculturalism and diversity.” This did not go over well, provoking an exodus of members. Perhaps the most significant blow of all came with the resignation of Donald Livingston as head of the Institute for the Study of Southern Culture and History, the “educational arm” of the LOS, which runs workshops and disseminates books and pamphlets. A professor of philosophy at Emory University, Livingston told the Report that he was put off by the group’s racism and other “political baggage.”
The LOS’ veneer of professorial respectability has been pierced numerous times, but perhaps never so dramatically as in the case of Michael Tubbs, who in the early 2000s was a leading LOS activist in Florida. In 2004, the Report revealed that Tubbs was actually a felon, a man who while in the military had robbed fellow soldiers at gunpoint of their weapons. (During one such theft, he and an accomplice had reportedly shouted, “This is for the KKK!”) When he was arrested, officials found several arms and explosives caches along with lists of targets that included newspapers, television stations and businesses owned by Jews and blacks. When these embarrassing facts were revealed, Hill and other LOS leaders allowed Tubbs to stay on, saying he’d paid his debt to society.
The group’s increasingly hardline positions and recruits drove many members away. By 2004, many of the group’s original founders — including Hill’s mentors who shepherded him through his history Ph.D. at the University of Alabama, Grady McWhiney and Forrest McDonald — had denounced him. At a 2005 strategy meeting, the LOS struggled to find a handful of interested persons to attend. By 2009, Hill was claiming 25,000 members, but that seemed extremely implausible.
In 2012 the League began hosting its national conference in a fixed location, a small building on the outskirts of Wetumpka, Alabama. The “League building,” as it was known by to LOS members, was owned by the Southern Cultural Center, Inc., a non-profit headed by a board of directors, among them realtor and Alabama LOS chairman Mike Whorton. The building served as the League’s convention site for the next seven years.
In fall 2013, the LOS again shifted its strategy, cloaking its hardline positions in new rhetoric centered on “Southern demographic displacement.” With this new approach, the primary focus of the LOS became small-scale street demonstrations – rarely more than 30 people — centered on more mainstream issues such as immigration and “traditional marriage.” This tactical change mirrors the strategy long employed by the Council of Conservative Citizens, an organization that shared a large number of members with LOS at that time. Participants were held to a strict dress code and were not allowed to stray from scripted, LOS-sanctioned messages while demonstrating.
The use of the Confederate Battle Flag (CBF) was also banned in favor of the more innocuous “Southern nationalist flag” developed by Michael Cushman, former chairman of the League’s South Carolina chapter.
In creating his flag, Cushman drew on the St. Andrew’s Cross, which is featured in the CBF and various state flags designed to mimic it. His bare-bones iteration consists of a black saltire emblazoned on a white banner. The Cushman Flag first began to appear publicly in 2013, adorning the shirts, signs and trucks of LOS members at rallies across the Southeast.
In 2013, Hill wrote:
We now have adopted a Southern nationalist flag – a black St. Andrews cross on a white field – that is The League’s own banner. It is not intended to replace any of our historic Southern/Confederate flags; it is merely our own contribution. It is a symbol that belongs uniquely to us as a Southern nationalist organization.
The development of the Cushman Flag occurred during a short-lived period in which the League publicly attempted to distance itself from the CBF. At the time, Brad Griffin, a League of the South member and its current “PR chief” who writes under the pseudonym Hunter Wallace on his white nationalist blog Occidental Dissent, described the flag as “a ‘redneck pride’ symbol … worn on tacky bikinis by tasteless women.”
For a short time beginning in 2014, the LOS led a billboard campaign, erecting signs reading “#SECEDE” on major highways throughout the Southeastern United States. The group successfully rented billboards in Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas, and secured up to $10,000 in matching donations from an anonymous donor for future billboards.
The LOS reached an unprecedented level of radicalization in the fall of 2014 with the formation of a uniformed, paramilitary unit called the “Indomitables.” The group, which was conceptualized at the 2014 national conference, was the result of years of increasingly violent League rhetoric. Its initial training director, Floyd Eric Meadows, was a veteran of both the U.S. Army and Navy with 12 years of service. Floyd Eric Meadows left the League in 2016 after fighting with Christian members over his neo-Völkisch beliefs.
On April 11, 2015, the LOS hosted an event celebrating the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Organized by the vice chairman of the Maryland-Virginia chapter of the League, Shane Long, the event “commemorate[d] the actions of Mr. John Wilkes Booth of Maryland who, motivated by the tyranny his Southern people faced, answered his calling with courage and fortitude.” The LOS’s main Facebook page put it even more bluntly: “Join us in April to celebrate the great accomplishment of John Wilkes Booth. He knew a man who needed killing when he saw him!”
After the June 17, 2015, massacre of nine black parishioners at Charleston, South Carolina’s Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the League positioned itself as the primary defender of the Confederate Battle flag as calls grew nationally for its removal from public squares across the country.
Hill’s rhetoric veered sharply toward violence during this period.
In a May 2015 Facebook post to League members, Hill shared the following prayer:
May Yahweh bring a dire earthly punishment on all those anti-White Whites who assist in any manner in the destruction of their own people and civilization. Such is treason to the created order. Also may Yahweh hold open a special place in hell for them.
This post highlighted Hill’s growing interest in Christian Identity, a racist ideology favored by Hill’s chief of staff Michael Tubbs. Other posts by Hill referenced conspiracy theories related to Christian Identity teaching.
That summer, Josh Doggrell, an officer with the Anniston, Alabama, police department, was fired after a Hatewatch report revealed his membership with the League.
The League continued to hold rallies in small towns across the Southeast over the next few years, gaining new members and building momentum as the 2016 presidential election created an increasingly polarized atmosphere tailor-made for Hill’s divisive rhetoric.
In 2017 the League joined the Nationalist Front, a bloc of neo-Nazi groups headed by Jeff Schoep of the National Socialist Movement. The League’s decision to align itself with avowed neo-Nazis flew in the face of Hill’s prior claims that LOS was not racist.
The pact with the Nationalist Front suited the League’s new direction in favor of street violence and vitriolic antisemitism. Four LOS members were arrested – one individual twice – during a volatile slew of rallies during 2017.
In February 2017, Hill announced that the League’s paramilitary wing, the Indomitables, had been reborn as the Southern Defense Force.
The League of the South is calling for all able-bodied, traditionalist Southern men to join our organization’s Southern Defense Force for the purpose of helping our State and local magistrates across Dixie combat this growing leftist menace to our historic Christian civilization. As private citizens in a private organization, we will stand ready to protect our own families and friends, our property, and our liberty from leftist chaos. Moreover, we will be ready to assist our local and State authorities in keeping the peace should they find it necessary to “deputize” private citizens for that purpose.
Tubbs and Robert Isaacs (aka “Ike Baker,”) a League official from Kentucky, have both been identified as members of the Southern Defense Force.
An April 2017 post on the League website cites the group’s appearance in Pikeville, Kentucky, as having been led by “Kentucky Southern Defense Force (SDF) Commander Ike Baker.”
In May 2017, members of the League of the South joined a group of far-right activists at New Orleans’ Lee Circle to protest the city’s removal of Confederate monuments. Florida LOS member William Finck, owner of the Christian Identity blog Christogenea, thanked “operation commander Michael Tubbs” for leading the League’s presence there.
In April, Ryan King, a Montgomery, Alabama, League member, was arrested after a fistfight during Richard Spencer’s speech in nearby Auburn, Alabama.
Christopher Rey Monzon aka “Chris Cedeno,” a Florida League member, was arrested during the group’s August 2017 New Orleans rally after a scuffle with another pro-monument demonstrator.
In June, Michael Peroutka, then-Councilman of Anne Arundel County, Maryland, denounced Hill and the League during a county council session. Peroutka, a former League member, was widely criticized for his affiliation with the League. Peroutka lost his seat in June of 2018.
The August 12, 2017, “Unite the Right” rally brought more trouble for Florida LOS members. Tyler Watkins Davis was arrested for his alleged involvement in the beating of Deandre Harris. Jim O’Brien was arrested with an illegally concealed pistol on his person.
The League gained notoriety for its role in sparking some of the worst violence on display during the “Unite the Right” rally. News footage of the event often seized on Michael Tubbs, who repeatedly led crowds of white nationalists in headlong scrums against counterprotesters.
In late August, former LOS member David O. Jones, a minister and Christian home schooling advocate living in Nashville, Tennessee, experienced backlash after a news team revealed that he had been shuttling funds for his private school venture through the League’s Mary Noel Kershaw Foundation. Jones, who served as the president of the foundation at the time, claimed that he had left the League two years prior.
Christopher Rey Monzon was arrested again in September after he attacked a crowd protesting a Confederate monument in Hollywood, Florida.
Hill and the League reveled in their newfound media attention after Charlottesville and organized a follow-up rally held in Shelbyville, Tennessee, in October 2017.
The spotlight came with a logistical cost. Police barricades at Shelbyville separated the League from counterprotesters, who drowned the League out with overwhelming numbers and a superior PA system.
There was a legal cost as well. In March 2018, Hill and other League leaders signed a consent decree that banned them from rallying in the city of Charlottesville. Another lawsuit listing the group as a plaintiff will be tried in 2019.
Subsequent League rallies in Tallahassee, Florida, and Newnan, Georgia, were similarly stifled by safety measures and large groups opposed to the League’s racist rhetoric. A belated shift to “guerilla activism” could not retain the membership, which was growing leery of the outings and arrests that accompany pre-announced public rallies.
The League was losing its appeal. Hill announced the group’s departure from the Nationalist Front in late August, less than a week before a video surfaced of Hill and LOS members burning an Israeli flag and a copy of the Talmud and sieg-heiling.
Hill shared the video on Facebook hours after a shooter killed 11 worshippers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, boasting: “It never gets old! What a great ad for us!” The fallout was dramatic. Several young League members announced their decision to leave the group as a result of the video and Hill’s unapologetic tone in the aftermath.
On Nov. 26, Hill addressed the loss of recent members in a post on Facebook:
This is not an easy time to be a League warrior. The enemy is coming at us with increasing hatred and malice, determined to destroy us, especially since we successfully challenged them in the streets of Charlottesville and elsewhere. It would be an easy time to quit, bow out, and avoid the coming battle. And indeed some have chosen this option, as they have done on several occasions when things have gotten hot in the past quarter century. If they wish to use their time and energy elsewhere, we wish them well. But to those of you who remain in The League, all I can promise you is that we will be here until the last ditch – the enemy’s or ours – and/or until we expend every last resource that God makes available to us.
On Dec. 10, Hill responded to rumors that longtime LOS member and former Alabama state chairman Michael Whorton had left the League. Whorton’s decision means that the League will no longer be allowed to convene in the building that has housed its annual conference since 2012. From Hill’s post:
An announcement about “the League building”
Over the past decade or so, many League members have made contributions of money, time, labor, skill, and material first to build and then to maintain what commonly was referred to as “the League building” in Wetumpka, Alabama. For the last 7 or 8 years we have held the annual LS national conference at this building and have shown it off with great pride.
But this has come to an end. Mike Whorton, our former Alabama State Chairman who recently resigned that position as well as his LS membership, informed me that we would no longer be welcome to rent the building for our national conference. I was not given a specific reason for this denial.
I know many of you who have supported the building over the years will be very disappointed to hear of this sad development. We are currently looking for a replacement venue for our 2019 national conference. We intend to continue holding it, if possible, in Alabama because of our central location.
On Dec. 14, Hill indicated that in 2019 “The League will make recruitment and retention” one of its main goals, adding “If you are a former member we’d like for you to consider re-joining.”