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Morris Dees' Sierra Club Candidate Statement Seeks Tolerance

Morris Dees, Center co-founder, writes an eloquent candidate statement expressing his hope that Club members will 'save the Sierra Club from a takeover by the radical right.'

What follows is the text of Center co-founder Morris Dees' Sierra Club Board candidate statement, sent out this week to Sierra Club members. Dees is not running to gain office, but rather to spread a message of tolerance and resistance to anti-immigration extremism. 

Morris Dees

Montgomery, Alabama


Civil rights lawyer


I put my name forward as a candidate for the Sierra Club board not because I have leadership experience in the Club — I have none — but because it affords me the opportunity to deliver what I feel is an important message: A hostile takeover of the Club by radical anti-immigrant activists is in the making.

My name is Morris Dees. For over 30 years, I have worked at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization I co-founded in 1971. The Center has brought numerous path-breaking civil rights cases in the areas of race and sex discrimination, voting rights, tax fairness, prison conditions, free speech, police brutality, separation of church and state, and immigrant rights. We are probably best known for our lawsuits against hate groups. In 1981, the Center started a project called Klanwatch in response to the resurgence of white supremacist groups. Now called the Intelligence Project, it monitors the radical right.

I believe a campaign led by Club director Ben Zuckerman and SUSPS (formerly known as Sierrans for U.S. Population Stabilization) is now under way to sway the Club to an anti-immigration position — a repeat of the SUSPS-initiated 1998 campaign that was wisely rejected by Club members. Last year, SUSPS-endorsed candidates Paul Watson and Doug LaFollette were elected to the Club board. This year, SUSPS is supporting three well-known candidates: Dick Lamm, Frank Morris and David Pimentel. SUSPS and other immigration restrictionists — including bigoted ideologue John Tanton  — have encouraged like-minded activists to join the Club to the same end. Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, the white supremacist website also recently urged its readers to join the Club in order to vote for SUSPS-backed candidates.

I am not asking that you vote for me. Instead, I am running to urge that you vote against the "greening of hate" and against those candidates backed by SUSPS. Please save the Sierra Club from a takeover by the radical right.