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Wed, 06.30.1971

The Southern Poverty Law Center is Founded

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was founded on June 30, 1971, as a legal activist center in the fight for justice and tolerance.

SPLC began as a small civil rights law firm. In the 21st century, the Center is internationally known for its tolerance education programs, its legal victories against white supremacists, and its tracking of hate groups. The Center was founded by Morris Dees and Joe Levin in Montgomery, AL. Its first president was civil rights activist Julian Bond. Through the years, the Center has worked to make America's Constitutional ideals a reality.

The Center's legal department fights all forms of discrimination and works to protect society's most vulnerable members, handling innovative cases that few lawyers are willing to take. Over four-plus decades, it has achieved important legal victories, landmark Supreme Court decisions, and jury verdicts against hate groups.

In 1981, the Center began investigating hate activity as groups like the Ku Klux Klan began to revive. Currently, the Center's Intelligence Project monitors these groups and tracks extremist activity throughout the U.S. SPLC provides full updates to law enforcement, the media, and the public through its quarterly magazine, Intelligence Report.  SPLC staff regularly conducts training sessions for police, schools, civil rights, and community groups and often serves as experts at hearings and conferences.

In 1991, the Center established Teaching Tolerance, an educational program to help K-12 teachers encourage respect and understanding in the classroom.  Teaching Tolerance is now one of the nation's leading providers of anti-bias resources in print and online.  Its award-winning magazine is distributed free twice a year to more than 500,000 educators, and its innovative multimedia kits are provided at no charge to thousands of schools and community groups. is an online destination for those wanting to dismantle bigotry and promote community diversity. Its outreach component provides on-site help to concerned individuals and organizations working for community unity.  The Southern Poverty Law Center is a nonprofit organization supported by the contributions of thousands of caring individuals. Its Annual Report and other financial information are available online.

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