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Founder of Southern Poverty Law Center to Speak at Ohio Wesleyan
Attorney, Activist Morris Dees to Discuss ‘With Justice for All’ at March 23 Event

March 7, 2011

Photo courtesy of the Southern Poverty Law Center
DELAWARE, OH – According to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, more than 1,000 hate groups are active today in the United States. And the number of anti-government “patriot” groups, including self-styled militias, doubled in Ohio between 2009 and 2010, it states.

The report attributes this growth to resentment over changing racial demographics, frustration over the sluggish economy, and the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories and harmful propaganda aimed at minorities and the government.

Morris Dees, founder of the Montgomery, Ala.-based Southern Poverty Law Center, will discuss the status of tolerance in America when he presents “With Justice for All” at Ohio Wesleyan University. Dees will deliver the 17th annual Butler A. Jones Lecture on Race and Society at 7 p.m. March 23 in Gray Chapel in University Hall, 61 S. Sandusky St.

Those wishing to attend the free event are invited to arrive early; doors will open at 6 p.m. Attendees will not be permitted to carry backpacks, large purses, or similar items into the lecture hall. Flash photography will not be permitted while Dees is speaking.

Dees founded the Center in 1971 after winning a series of groundbreaking civil rights cases. He has received more than 20 honorary degrees and numerous awards throughout his career, including Trial Lawyer of the Year from Trial Lawyers for Public Justice and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award from the National Education Association.

In 2006, Dees was named one of the nation’s 100 most influential lawyers by the National Law Journal. Today, the Morris Dees Justice Award is presented annually to a lawyer devoted to public service work. The award was created jointly by the University of Alabama Law School, where Dees earned his law degree, and the New York law firm of Skadden, Arps.

Dees has written three books, including the autobiographical “A Season for Justice” and “Gathering Storm: America’s Militia Threat.” His legal victories against the Ku Klux Klan also were the topic of the 1991 TV movie “Line of Fire.”

Dees’ Ohio Wesleyan visit is sponsored by the departments of sociology/anthropology, politics and government, economics, and religion; the Women’s and Gender Studies Program; the Arneson Institute for Practical Politics and Public Affairs; the Woltemade Center for Economics, Business and Entrepreneurship; the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs; and the offices of the president, provost, chaplain, dean of academic affairs, and minority student affairs.

Ohio Wesleyan’s Butler A. Jones Lectureship on Race and Society was established in 1995 in honor of Jones, Ph.D., a former sociology/anthropology faculty member. In contributing to the quest for equality among races, Jones submitted 10 briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court in cases involving equal treatment of all citizens and completed background research for the 1940 Carnegie-Myrdal Study of African Americans. He also was heavily involved in the field of sociology and committed to the development of other scholars and professionals.

Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier small, private universities, with more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and 23 Division III varsity sports. Located in Delaware, Ohio, just minutes north of Ohio’s capital and largest city, Columbus, the university combines a globally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities that translate classroom theory into real-world practice. OWU’s close-knit community of 1,850 students represents 45 states and 52 countries. Ohio Wesleyan earned a 2009 Presidential Award for Excellence in General Community Service, is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” and is included on the “best colleges” lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Learn more at www.owu.edu.