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Morris Dees Jr.

founder, Southern Poverty Law Center

Civil rights lawyer Morris Dees Jr. developed an innovative legal strategy that sought to achieve what some legal scholars would have thought impossible: the leadership of racist organizations would be held accountable for the violent consequences of their activities. In 1987, he used the strategy in a $7 million wrongful death suit against the United Klans of America, charging that its message of racial hatred and violence inspired two Klan members to lynch a young, mobile, Alabama black man. Dees won, and the local Klan was bankrupted.