"A Passion for Justice"
Few people are more qualified to address some of the key threats facing our country than Morris Dees. He has successfully tracked and fought domestic terrorists for 20 years. He knows what America faces in the war against terrorism. He also has a powerful tolerance message to stem the tide of hate crimes. His message is one of hope, and of turning this tragedy into America’s finest hour.
Over the course of his career, Dees has done much to promote diversity. His efforts have resulted in many achievements, including the Civil Rights Memorial and successful lawsuits against hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nations that have imprisoned perpetrators of hate crimes and increased awareness of radical militias.
He is chief trial counsel for The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit group he co-founded in 1971, which specializes in lawsuits involving civil rights violations, domestic terrorists, and racially motivated crimes.
When Klan members lynched an African-American man in Mobile, Alabama in 1981, civil rights lawyer Dees—and the Southern Poverty Law Center he founded—launched a historic lawsuit.
In 1990, Dees won a verdict for the family of an Ethiopian murdered by Skinheads in Oregon. In 1998, he obtained a verdict against the Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan for the burning of the Macedonia Baptist Church in South Carolina. In 2000, he won a verdict that bankrupted the Aryan Nations in Idaho.
Dees’ success has not been limited to his work for the Center. In 1972, he was Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern’s finance director. He also served as former President Jimmy Carter’s national finance director in 1976 and as national finance chairman for Senator Ted Kennedy’s 1980 presidential campaign.
As a frequent university speaker, Dees devotes much of his time to educating students about the civil rights movement.
Using the law like a sword, Dees continues his battles as chief trial counsel and chair of the executive committee for the Center. He has devoted his time to developing ideas for “Teaching Tolerance,” the Center’s well-regarded education project.