The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is an American nonprofit civil rights organization. It is internationally known for legal victories against white supremacist groups; free legal representation for victims of hate groups; monitoring of hate groups, militias and extremist organizations; and educational programs that promote tolerance. The SPLC classifies as hate groups organizations that denigrate or assault entire groups of people for attributes that are beyond their control.
In 1971, Morris Dees and Joseph J. Levin Jr. founded the SPLC as a civil rights law firm based in Montgomery, Alabama. Civil rights leader Julian Bond soon joined Dees and Levin and served as president of the board between 1971 and 1979. The SPLC's litigating strategy involved filing civil suits for damages on behalf of the victims of hate group harassment, threats, and violence with the goal of financially depleting the responsible groups and individuals. While it originally focused on damages done by the Klan and other white supremacists, throughout the years the SPLC has become involved in other civil rights causes, among them, cases concerned with institutional racial segregation and discrimination, the mistreatment of aliens, and the separation of church and state.