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I decided to revisit a subject I've written about previously, The Southern Poverty Law Center.  I have been involved with this fine, diligent group of men and women for many years and would like to share some information and thoughts with you about the important work done by this group.

Some background from their website:

The Southern Poverty Law Center was founded in 1971 as a small civil rights law firm. Today, SPLC is internationally known for its tolerance education programs, its legal victories against white supremacists and its tracking of hate groups.

Located in Montgomery, Alabama – the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement – the Southern Poverty Law Center was founded by Morris Dees and Joe Levin, two local lawyers who shared a commitment to racial equality. Its first president was civil rights activist Julian Bond.

More about them below.

Throughout its history, SPLC has worked to make the nation's Constitutional ideals a reality. The SPLC 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 three decades, it has achieved significant legal victories, including landmark Supreme Court decisions and crushing jury verdicts against hate groups.

My desire to revisit this issue is based on a post I read over at Crooks and Liars

A federal grand jury indicted a former Camp Lejeune Marine on Wednesday on charges that he threatened the life of Barack Obama, the U.S. Attorney's Office confirmed today.

Kody Brittingham, 20, formerly a lance corporal with 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, was accused of making threats against Obama while he was president-elect, said Robin Zier, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office for the eastern district of North Carolina.

Brittingham was arrested by the Jacksonville Police Department on breaking and entering charges in mid-December 2008.

Naval investigators discovered a journal allegedly written by Brittingham in his barracks after his arrest by civilian authorities in December. The journal contained plans on how to kill the president, as well as white supremacist material, a federal law enforcement official said.

Rich Sanchez had on his program Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center yesterday to discuss the uptick in hate groups spurred on both by the worsening economy and the election of the nation's first black president.  

Here's the gist of the report written by the SPLC's David Holthouse

From white power skinheads decrying "President Obongo" at a racist gathering in rural Missouri, to neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen hurling epithets at Latino immigrants from courthouse steps in Oklahoma, to anti-Semitic black separatists calling for death to Jews on bustling street corners in several East Coast cities, hate group activity in the U.S. was disturbing and widespread throughout 2008, as the number of hate groups operating in America continued to rise. Last year, 926 hate groups were active in the U.S., up more than 4% from 888 in 2007. That's more than a 50% increase since 2000, when there were 602 groups.

We have a lot to do in this country to combat bigotry and hate.  The importance of the SPLC cannot be overemphasized.  If you go to their website you can learn about some of their programs.  Kossacks who are teachers might like to familiarize themselves with some tools available by this organization's Teaching Tolerance program.

For those of us not in the teaching profession but who would like to take part in this important work, just click here to learn how to stand strong against hate.  There's a cool, interactive map to look at, too.

There is also a Civil Rights Memorial.

The Civil Rights Memorial honors the achievements and memory of those who lost their lives during the Civil Rights Movement, a period framed by the momentous Brown v. Board decision in 1954 and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in 1968.

Created by Vietnam Veterans Memorial designer Maya Lin, the striking black granite memorial is located across the street from the Southern Poverty Law Center's office building in Montgomery, Alabama, a city rich with civil rights history.

Civil Rights Memorial

My hope is that many of you will click on the website and learn more about how you can get involved.  This is a group who has been tried and tested and not found to be wanting.  Their accolades are here.

Originally posted to maggiejean on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 07:39 PM PST.

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