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The Life and Times of Civil Rights Lawyer Morris Dees

by Morris Dees with Steve Fiffer

Pub Date: June 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-684-19189-X
Publisher: Scribner

 Dees, civil-rights lawyer and co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, offers an eloquent memoir of his battles with the Ku Klux Klan and other right-wing hate organizations. Dees's autobiography, written with fellow attorney Fiffer, epitomizes the paradox of the New South. A white Southern Baptist who attended the Univ. of Alabama in the 1950's, and who made a fortune in the mail-order business, Dees appeared an unlikely candidate to become a crusading civil-rights lawyer. But the atrocities of his white neighbors against blacks involved in the civil-rights movement aroused in Dees a deep protest. Although his successful business freed him from the necessity of making a living as a lawyer, he co-founded the Southern Poverty Law Center and started to bring civil-rights cases against the newly resurgent Ku Klux Klan. Dees describes in gripping detail his fight to protect Vietnamese victims of the Klan in Texas, and his ultimately victorious struggle to expose and punish the murderous activities of the United Klans of America. His description of the Klan and affiliated fascist groups like the American Nazi Party and the Order is truly frightening (more than once, these groups menaced Dees himself). Moreover, his narrative of his ultimate success is an inspiring example of the manner in which the American legal system, imperfect though it is, can solve social problems. A moving, powerful account of one man's struggle against injustice.