Posted on March 15, 2019

Southern Poverty Law Center Fires Founder Morris Dees

Associated Press, March 14, 2019

Morris Dees and Heidi Beirich

Morris Dees and Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center. (Credit Image: © Buchan / Rex Shutterstock via ZUMA Press)

The Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, a nationally known nonprofit that monitors hate organizations, said Thursday it had fired co-founder Morris Dees, who once won a lawsuit that bankrupted a leading Ku Klux Klan group.

A statement by Richard Cohen, the president of the law center, said Dees’ employment had been terminated, but it did not give a specific reason.

“As a civil rights organization, the SPLC is committed to ensuring that the conduct of our staff reflects the mission of the organization and the values we hope to instill in the world. When one of our own fails to meet those standards, no matter his or her role in the organization, we take it seriously and must take appropriate action,” it said.

Reached by telephone, Dees said the matter involved a personnel issue but did not elaborate. He said he wished the center well.

“I think the Southern Poverty Law Center is a very fine group and I devoted nearly 50 years of my life to it and I’m proud of its work,” Dees said.

“About being fired, all I can say is it wasn’t my decision and I wish the center the best.”


In a statement about Dees’ ouster, the SPLC said it was “deeply committed to having a workplace that reflects the values it espouses — truth, justice, equity and inclusion, and we believe the steps we have taken today reaffirm that commitment.”

Dees’ biography appeared to have been removed from the organization’s website.

The SPLC said an outside group will review its workplace practices.