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Last week, the Republican National Convention adopted a resolution “refuting the Southern Poverty Law Center’s legitimacy to identify hate groups.” It stated that “the federal government should not view this organization as a legitimate foundation equipped to provide actionable information.” 

The NAACP condemns Republican attacks on the Southern Poverty Law Center. In our 111-year history, we have been subject to multiple deadly attacks and investigations challenging our mission and our work. Our leaders and members, such as Medgar Evers and Harry T. Moore, have been murdered by white supremacists as a result of our advocacy for equal rights and racial justice. In the 1950s, the State of Alabama sought to prevent us from conducting business in the state because of our civil rights activities. Fortunately, the Supreme Court ruled in our favor in the seminal case, NAACP v. Alabama. 

We will not stand by as a national political party attacks the legitimacy of an organization such as the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Center has led this nation’s efforts to identify and combat white supremacy and race-based domestic terrorism. It is needed now more than ever as our own government stokes hatred and bigotry and offers cover and support to white supremacists. We join 24 other national civil rights organizations in issuing the following statement:  

“Hate crimes and incidents terrorize entire communities and we are seeing an unprecedented increase in them. These acts of hate cause people devastating harm and undermine our democracy as people fear for their lives. Yet during this ongoing crisis, the RNC is condemning an organization for doing work that helps community leaders, law enforcement, and state and local governments combat hate.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s research and analysis on hate groups have long provided critical data to help local leaders protect people targeted for hate violence. That research documented a 50 percent increase in the number of white nationalist hate groups last year. This year, when the FBI elevated racist, violent extremists to a national threat priority, the FBI director acknowledged that most racist attacks are fueled by some type of white supremacy. Offering research and data helps people understand the source of violent threats so we can all combat hate and keep our communities safe is part of a commitment to making our country safe for all to thrive. 

This resolution seeks to undermine the truth and enable white nationalists and hate groups like QAnon to continue targeting hate against the communities we represent and serve alongside. We condemn this resolution that only seeks to hide evidence of the damage this administration and its supporters have wrought on our communities and our country. Until we reckon with the many ways that white nationalism and hate groups continue to devastate our country, we cannot keep people safe nor come closer to realizing a country as good as its ideals.” 

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ABOUT THE NAACP

Founded in 1909 in response to the ongoing violence against Black people around the country, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation. We have over 2,200 units and branches across the nation, along with well over 2M activists. Our mission is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons. The NAACP is a c4 organization (contributions are not tax-deductible), and we have a partner c3 organization known as the NAACP Empowerment Programs (contributions are fully tax-deductible as allowed by the IRS).

NOTE: The Legal Defense Fund — also referred to as the NAACP-LDF was founded in 1940 as a part of the NAACP, but separated in 1957 to become a completely separate entity. It is recognized as the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and shares our commitment to equal rights.