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SPLC Celebrates 50 Years As a Catalyst for Racial Justice in the South

Milestone Marks Organization’s History, Impact on Civil Rights and Social Justice; Sets the Course to Strengthen Democracy in the U.S.

Montgomery, Ala – The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is celebrating 50 years of advocacy with a virtual, livestreamed event, “SPLC 50th Anniversary Celebration,” to be held Thursday, Nov. 18 at 7:00 p.m. CT/8:00 p.m. ET. 

“The Southern Poverty Law Center has grown from a small law firm dedicated to protecting the achievements of the civil rights movement to a true catalyst for change and progress in the Deep South and across the country,’ said Margaret Huang, president and chief executive officer of SPLC. “These great strides have been made possible by the work of our amazing staff and the support from hundreds of thousands of individuals across the country committed to change.”

The organization was founded in 1971 with the support and leadership of the late Julian Bond, on the heels of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s which brought many new laws but little relief for many in the South. For the past five decades, the SPLC delivered landmark Civil Rights decisions, advocated major reforms, and blazed new paths including: 

•    Forcing the integration of the Alabama state trooper force; 
•    Shattering barriers to equality for women;
•    Shutting down some of the nation’s most violent white supremacist groups like the United Klans of America by winning crushing, multimillion-dollar jury verdicts on behalf of their victims; 
•    Amid a resurgence of the Klan in the 1980s, launching Klanwatch (now the Intelligence Project), an investigative unit dedicated to tracking and exposing the activities of white supremacist and other hate groups. 
•    Creating Teaching Tolerance (now Learning for Justice) to create anti-bias films, books, curricula and other resources for the classroom and distribute them, free of charge, to K-12 teachers across the country.  
•    Fighting for the rights of foreign guest workers and working to protect the rights of immigrants and their children to ensure they are treated with dignity and fairness.

The organization has worked to dismantle the vestiges of Jim Crow, reform juvenile justice practices, and challenge continuing barriers to equality for children, the LGBTQ+ community and people with disabilities. 

Huang added, “As we look forward to the next 50 years of this organization, we see a real opportunity to sharpen our impact and be more connected to the communities we serve – and who share our commitment to change and progress.” 

Over the last few years, the SPLC has continued to expand its reach and impact in the Deep South including:

•    Ahead of the 2020 elections, SPLC started its Vote Your Voice initiative – a program investing up to $30 million in organizations across the region working to conduct voter registration, education and mobilization activities among people of color over several election cycles. In 2021, SPLC expanded Vote Your Voice to also support organizations’ voting rights and fair redistricting efforts. The initiative is focused on supporting democratic participation by people of color in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi – the Deep South region that is the focus of the SPLC’s work. During the 2020 election cycle up through today, the project has awarded and distributed over $23 million to 55 organizations.  
•    Last month, the organization also announced plans for building a greatly expanded, community-centric office complex in the metro Atlanta area. The organization’s vision is to use the new office building as a tool to spark investment and opportunities into an existing neighborhood and support the work of area community organizations and nonprofits.

This virtual celebration will highlight the SPLC’s long history of fighting for racial justice in the South and beyond, while outlining the organization’s future efforts to work closer with community partners in four, impact areas: dismantling white nationalism, eradicate poverty, protecting voting rights, and advocating for the decarceration and decriminalization of Black and Brown people. 

The event will also feature appearances from notable guests and speakers, including: Mayor of Montgomery Steven Reed; U.S. House of Representatives Members Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Grace Meng (D-NY), Jim Clyburn (D-SC) and Judy Chu (D-CA); United States Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA); United States Senator John Ossoff (D-GA); Stacey Abrams; Derrick Johnson, President of the NAACP; Anthony Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU; and Fatima Goss Graves, President/CEO of National Women’s Law Center, among many others.

Click HERE to experience the SPLC 50th Anniversary today at 7:00 p.m. CT/8:00 p.m. ET.

The full url to access the livestream is: