Skip to main content Accessibility

2023 in Review: A year of accomplishments for the SPLC

The Southern Poverty Law Center continued its mission as a catalyst for racial justice in 2023, refusing to back down from challenges and a difficult environment for many of the communities served by the SPLC. Here is a look back at a few key accomplishments from another busy year.

  • The SPLC strengthened its focus on local communities with the launch of its Alabama state office. The new office is part of an expansion of the SPLC’s efforts to work in deep partnership with communities as we fight injustice and inequality across the South. It is the second such office, following the opening of the Mississippi office in 2022. The goal is to help form a more powerful advocacy network to confront longstanding racial and economic inequities.
  • The SPLC helped preserve historic Black communities in 2023. We helped combat a development plan targeting the historic Black community of Eatonville, Florida. The SPLC also urged historic designation of Royal, Florida. The hope is that this work will help uphold the dignity of place and people while creating economic opportunities from which everyone benefits. It’s an important issue as communities of color often face the threat of land loss through development and other issues.
  • In a nation known as the world’s leader in incarceration, the SPLC fought the criminalization of Black and Brown people. A settlement in an SPLC case at an immigrant detention center in Georgia marked a step toward ending abuses at for-profit immigrant prisons. At the United Nations in Geneva, the SPLC highlighted the issue of solitary confinement, an excessive and particularly brutal practice that is especially prevalent in the states served by the organization.
  • The criminalization of poverty was fought on multiple fronts by the SPLC. Our intervention ended criminal prosecutions over late trash bills in the small Alabama town of Valley. The SPLC also continued to push back against laws criminalizing unhoused people, securing a federal injunction against two Alabama statutes that criminalized soliciting donations and begging.
  • The SPLC continued combating hate and extremism. In 2023, we documented 1,225 hate and antigovernment extremist groups that operated across the U.S. the previous year. We also highlighted the rising threat of anti-student inclusion groups that use the banner of “parents’ rights” to erase Black history from schools, ban books and censor educators teaching diversity, among other issues opposed by these groups.
  • To highlight hate-fueled crimes across the United States, the SPLC launched Hate Crimes Awareness Month in October. We will conduct an annual campaign to alert the public, advocates, policymakers and politicians to the problem of hate crimes and press for action to prevent them.
  • The SPLC challenged the horrific conditions of incarceration of young people across the Deep South. In Louisiana, we successfully worked with partners to remove children from the notorious Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as “Angola,” which sits on the former site of a plantation. The SPLC continued to advocate for these youth afterward. The SPLC also issued reports highlighting the dangers of the Louisiana and Mississippi youth legal systems.
  • The SPLC advanced immigrant justice, identifying a case that ultimately won a significant U.S. Supreme Court victory. After Estrella Santos-Zacaria, a transgender woman fleeing violence in Guatemala, was detained at an immigrant prison where SPLC attorneys provide free legal services, the SPLC placed her case with private pro bono attorneys who won the right to further challenge her deportation. The Supreme Court’s decision in the case marks a notable step in its acknowledgment of preferred pronouns for transgender people. Elsewhere, a settlement was approved in an SPLC lawsuit over a massive 2018 immigration raid at an East Tennessee meat processing plant.
  • The battle to ensure a vibrant, inclusive democracy continued as the SPLC advanced voter rights and engagement ahead of the 2024 presidential election. In Alabama and Mississippi, the SPLC launched and supported efforts to engage voters, particularly young people. In Jacksonville, Florida, an SPLC lawsuit over the city’s gerrymandered district map was settled, providing hope for an equitable voting map. And the SPLC’s Vote Your Voice campaign provided grants to grassroots voting organizations across the Deep South.
  • As schools continue to face attempts to stifle honest lessons about U.S. history and racism, the SPLC’s Learning for Justice program released a framework for teaching the Civil Rights Movement. The new curriculum framework is designed to help educators, parents and caregivers teach high school-age students about Black Americans’ struggle for equality and civil rights in the U.S. from Reconstruction to the present.
  • The SPLC delivered stories of hope and community and was recognized for journalistic excellence. 2023 marked the launch of the Hopewatch blog to amplify the unwavering commitment of people who tirelessly advocate for racial and social justice. The SPLC’s Editorial Services team was recognized for its advocacy journalism. It received an Anthem Award for a story about the mistreatment of Black men in immigrant detention. It also won an award from the National Association of Black Journalists for its article about efforts to preserve Eatonville. Learning for Justice won a Green Eyeshade Award for an article about teaching honest history.

Image at top: Illustration by Cierra Brinson, SPLC