Friday, February 25, 2011

The all-white face of the Southern Poverty Law Center

Oh my. Isn't this disturbing news.

It appears as if the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group that goes around lecturing other people about racism, has an all-white leadership and has never, in its 40 year history, had a person of color in its highly paid pantheon of leaders. Apparently they just can't find any African-Americans in Montgomery, Alabama, the birthplace of the civil rights movement:
Some people may find it odd that a civil rights organization, headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, the very birthplace of the American Civil Rights Movement and home to Rosa Parks, would be run by white millionaires, but that’s nothing compared with the fact that in its entire 40 year long history, the Southern Poverty Law Center has NEVER hired a person of color to a highly paid position of power.
According to the site "Watching the Watchdogs," the group's "do as I say, not as I do" policy has been noticed before:

“Inside [SPLC headquarters], no blacks have held top management positions in the center’s 23-year history, and some former employees say blacks are treated like second-class citizens.” (Montgomery Advertiser, Feb. 16, 1994)

And check out the salaries of these all-white civil rights activists. Mouthing platitudes while ignoring them in your own organization has never been so profitable.


KyCobb said...


You have fallen victim to right-wing propaganda. A cursory check of the SPLC website showed that 6 of the 13 members of the Board of Directors are people of color, the Director of Outreach is African-American, and other staff named on the page had distinctly non-anglo names. And that took me just a couple of minutes. Plus I bet many of those white faces are probably Jewish, who themselves are among the biggest targets of hate groups.

BTW, please let me know when all the management of far-right groups have taken vows of poverty.

Martin Cothran said...

I said "pantheon of highly paid leaders." Can you tell me how much these board members make?

KyCobb said...


The Board members are volunteers. Can you tell me how many of the "highly paid leaders" are Jewish, and therefore would not be considered white by racist hate groups? Did you notice that the quotes your source used to attack the SPLC are at least 17 years old? And can you tell me how their pay compares to the pay of the leadership of right-wing groups promoting the Right's agenda?

Martin Cothran said...

Well that's a great defense of the group: they have volunteers who are non-white.

And the fact that the quotes are 17 years old is less interesting than the fact that what they say is still true.

And what the salary would be for leaders of right wing groups is irrelevant: they're not the ones who have the word "poverty" in their titles.

KyCobb said...


OK I understand. Since right-wing groups are promoting the agenda of the rich, they should be rich as well. If you try to help the poor, you should be required to take a vow of poverty. And don't think I didn't notice that you ignored that your source is basically engaged in jew-baiting to try to drive a wedge between minority groups.

Martin Cothran said...

One Brow,

Give me the quotation you are referring to as "Jew-baiting," or I'll have to conclude that you, like the Southern Poverty Law Center, have expanded your definition of racism so that it includes basically everything.

And if we can define racism in such an expansive fashion, then explain to me whether defending an organization with all-white paid leadership isn't a defense of white supremacy.

Martin Cothran said...

You might also give some proof that these groups really exist outside of the overactive imagination of the SPLC. I have monitored news in Kentucky for 20 years and have never heard of most of these groups.

KyCobb said...


Your source is concern trolling about the paid leadership of the SPLC, charging them with racism when he really couldn't care less about racism, and its likely that a significant number of them are jewish. If you want proof of the existence of hate groups, I suggest you read the news about the woman who is a member of a Patriot border patrol group who was just convicted in Arizona of murdering a nine year old girl in cold blood because the child committed the crime of being an immigrant from Mexico.

Martin Cothran said...


So if someone criticizes a group and some of them happen to be Jewish, that's Jew-Baiting? Can we apply this standard to, say the Obama administration when it criticizes Israel for doing something it doesn't like?

There are a lot of Jews there, you know?

This kind of talk only exacerbates the tensions in race relations. It's a shame we have people who are willing to make race relations worse for their own political benefit.

KyCobb said...


Which is exactly what the source of your story is doing.

Richard Keefe said...

Martin, I'd like to thank you for linking to my Watching the Watchdogs blog, and for speaking on my behalf with KyCobb.

If I may, I'd like to address KyCobb's concerns as well.

To begin with, Watching the Watchdogs is not right-wing propaganda. Though I voted for Obama in '08, politics plays no part in my posts.

Almost all of my sources come directly from the SPLC web site and the writings of its officers. I scrupulously cite all of my references so that anyone can check my information.

If anyone finds anything on my blog that is inaccurate, I will recant and remove it immediately.

Second, the SPLC's Board members ARE unpaid volunteers, which is not uncommon for non-profit organizations.

The problem with the SPLC's board is that they have no influence over SPLC policy. Dan Morse of the Montgomery Advertiser reported as far back as 1994 that the board was comprised of SPLC founder Morris Dees' cronies, who regularly rubber-stamped Dees' edicts.

Some of the same Board members in that report are still on the board today.

There may be minorities on the SPLC's board, but they have no power. They are only their for "brown-washing" purposes.

(Dan Morse, “Friendly Board,” Montgomery Advertiser, February 19, 1994.)

Speaking of Dan Morse, you question my use of his week-long exposé from 1994 in the Advertiser.

I use the Morse reports because Dan Morse is a legitimate journalist and the Montgomery Advertiser is a legitimate newspaper. In fact, as the SPLC's hometown newspaper, the Advertiser put journalism ahead of its best financial interests, as angering the powerful SPLC and its friends cannot be good for business.

In 2000, Ken Silverstein of the Left-leaning "Harper's Magazine" repeated the charge that there were still no minority execs at the SPLC, and thanks to the Internet Archive, you can retrieve SPLC financial reports going back to 2002, which identify the highest paid execs, which is what I have done.

I'm not going to touch the "Jewish name" comment, as it is irrelevant to this conversation, other than to say that claiming that Jewish people are somehow a minority in either the legal or civil rights worlds is inaccurate and insulting.

As for my alleged "trolling" activities, I very much care about an organization that spends millions of donor-dollars promoting itself as a "non-profit civil rights organization" that doesn't hire minorities to its executive board.

As for the SPLC's "non-profit" status, they've taken in more than $353 MILLION tax-free dollars since 2003, (yes, that's more than a third of a BILLION with a "B") and have done nothing with that money to fight poverty.

Two-thirds of that obscene sum came in from honest, mostly elderly donors, who get nothing in return.

The SPLC's Endowment Fund, which Dees set up in 1974 so that the SPLC could stop fund-raising and live off the interest, now stands at more than $216 million dollars.

The fund reached critical mass in 2007, when it easily began generating more money than the SPLC's annual operating costs, and yet Morris Dees continues his non-stop fund-raising fear campaign.

Last week the SPLC released its 2010 "Hate Map," which is its most effective fund-raising tool. the "map" is so full of half-truths and flat out lies as to be laughable, if it wasn't separating so many well-meaning people (almost ALL of whom are Progressives, btw), from so many hundreds of millions of hard-earned dollars.

You can find my summary of the Great Lie here:

KyCobb, I hope this answers some of your questions about my blog and my motivation. If not, feel free to contact me directly.

Martin, my apologies for this long-winded post. I thank you again for your kindness.

Richard Keefe
Watching the Watchdogs

One Brow said...


I went to the site and didn't see anything that specifically looked like "jew-baiting", outside of what KyCobb has noted about Jewish people being subject to discrimination by these same hate groups.

However, since I haven't commented here in a couple of weeks, I'm curious why you thought I needed to defend such an accusation in the first place.

Nationalist Radical said...

Not attempting to be disrespectful, but, still...leave it to a conservative to call the face of the SPLC "all-white" without mentioning that a very large portion of those whites, are actually Jews! :P

Reminds me of the claim that the democrats are really racists because back in the day they were the party of segregation. So close, and yet so far.