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Impact Report

Since 1971, the Southern Poverty Law Center has pursued racial justice and human rights for all people. From a small law office in Montgomery to a multi-state organization known nationwide for championing equity, the owes our 52 years of growth, change and triumph to the communities we serve, our dedicated staff and committed supporters.

The 2023 Impact Report is a celebration of people power. Activists, clients, partners and donors. Individuals standing up for their values and collectives continuing the march. 2023 brought many challenges — a rise in hate crimes, anti-voter laws, censorship in the classroom and more — but your investment kept the unflinching in the face of hate and inequity. We expanded our community reach. We held extremists accountable. And we fought in the courts for a nation where everybody can thrive.

In 2023 ...

29,000

Mississippians will potentially regain their right to vote through legal action in the ongoing lawsuit Hopkins v. Watson. A federal judge ruled Mississippi’s lifetime felony disenfranchisement was cruel and unusual punishment.

68

Grassroots voter and civic engagement groups received new grants to expand capacity and build political power for communities in the South through the ’s Vote Your Voice initiative.

1,225

Hate and antigovernment extremist groups tracked in our annual Year in Hate report.

78

Research presentations by the ’s Intelligence Project given to community groups, universities, government institutions and more to help fight hate and extremism.

1,200

Black residents in Royal, Florida — one of only two surviving Black homesteading communities founded under the Homestead Act of 1862 — fighting to receive proper recognition of their historic land with support from the .

66+

Years total in criminal sentences reduced for formerly incarcerated people in Louisiana and Mississippi through the ’s early release legal aid program.

4,865

Volunteer attorney hours worked providing free legal aid to immigrants in detention through the ’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative (SIFI).

$1.175 million

Secured in a historic class action settlement for Latinx workers in Tennessee unjustly and brutally targeted in a raid by local law enforcement and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).


Reducing Incarceration

“There’s a lot of things that should be off the books, but one at a time. One law at a time. For not just here — for small-town America. Small-town America is where it’s at. A lot of things get swept up under the rugs. And because of , y’all making light of a lot of things.”
– Nortasha Jackson

Nortasha Jackson
Nortasha Jackson of Valley, Alabama, was arrested and jailed for nonpayment of an $85 trash collection bill three months overdue, despite her attempts to make arrangements to pay. The helped Jackson get charges against her dismissed in February 2023 and, months later, the local district attorney announced his office would no longer pursue charges in cases involving late utility bills — directly citing a letter from the . (Credit: Hillary Hudson)

The is committed to ending the inequities of the criminal legal and immigration systems while helping safeguard the rights of those trapped within them. We focus on disrupting mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline, fighting the criminalization of Black and Brown communities, and investigating the human rights abuses of detained and incarcerated people.

  • Filed the lawsuit Yellowhammer Fund v. Attorney General of Alabama Steve Marshall to challenge the criminalization of pregnant Alabamians forced to leave the state to receive legal abortion care.
  • Reached a settlement in Marion County, Florida, on behalf of a lawful permanent resident unlawfully detained and referred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Marion County Sheriff’s Office was forced to end its policy of automatically notifying ICE of arrests based on foreign birth alone, among other policy amendments, and pay $150,000 in damages.
  • Filed a lawsuit with legal partners on behalf of Louisiana families against the St. Bernard Parish School Board for allegedly violating the rights of students with disabilities, placing them in punitive alternative schools without proper accommodations or adequate education services.
  • Helped remove children in secure custody from Angola State Penitentiary, an adult maximum-security prison, where they reportedly faced abuse and lack of educational services. The and our legal partners will continue supporting the families fighting for accountability through the lawsuit Alex A v. Edwards.

Eradicating Poverty

“If it were not for the , we would not be able to be in the position that we’re in ... Thanks to the team, we’ve been able to capture the kind of attention so that, in the court of public opinion, we stand, and we stand at a high level.”
– NY Nathiri

NY Nathiri
NY Nathiri of is the executive director of the Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community (P.E.C.) in Eatonville, Florida — one of the first incorporated Black towns in the country founded by newly emancipated Black Americans, and one of the last remaining. Through communications and legal support, the helped P.E.C. and the community stop the School Board of Orange County from selling a historic site for commercial development. The people of Eatonville continue fighting to protect their land. (Credit: Saul Martinez.)

The seeks justice alongside people living in poverty. We challenge entrenched systems, fight for equitable access to public services and advocate for the human right to housing, education, health care and economic opportunity in the Deep South and beyond. We envision a nation where all Americans have access to the resources they need to thrive, no matter their circumstances or identity.

  • Fought alongside families in Georgia to protect their transgender children’s essential gender-affirming health care from state interference in the lawsuit Koe v. Noggle.
  • Supported the Gullah Geechee people, a Hogg Hummock community on Georgia’s Sapelo Island, against rezoning amendments that would increase property taxes and cause the push-out of a historic Black population from culturally significant land.
  • Uplifted community voices of the majority-Black city of Prichard, Alabama, during a hearing on the mismanagement of local water utilities. We helped ensure the judge and related parties respected the concerns of Prichard residents, who have lived without drinkable tap water for years, and incorporate community feedback into future decisions on the fate of the city’s Water Works and Sewer Board.
  • Helped people experiencing homelessness in Montgomery, Alabama, secure their First Amendment rights in our lawsuit Singleton v. City of Montgomery. A federal judge ruled the state’s statutes criminalizing panhandling are unconstitutional and issued a permanent injunction to stop Alabama from enforcing them.

Strengthening Democracy

“Vote Your Voice has been a game-changer for the Power Coalition ... We’ve been able to accomplish some very amazing things... we’re really seeing the impact and it has really helped us move people on the ground and really realize the kind of power that takes us all the way to Congress.”
– Ashley Shelton

Ashley Shelton
Ashley Shelton is the founder, president and CEO of the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice headquartered in New Orleans. The Power Coalition received a three-year, $750,000 field strengthening grant from the ’s Vote Your Voice initiative, which is helping community organizations in the Deep South cultivate civic engagement and increase voter turnout among Black and Brown people. The Power Coalition uses its funding to support voter outreach efforts across Louisiana with the help of its local partners, aiming to reach 600,000 Black and Brown voters by 2026. (Credit: Dan Anderson.)

The works to protect, expand and uplift the voting and civic engagement rights of communities of color across the nation. Through legal action, policy, education and partnerships with local groups and organizers, we help strengthen the political power of those targeted by voting restrictions and structural barriers to fair representation. We envision a thriving, multiracial democracy for all Americans — a nation where every voice counts.

  • Used the courts to temporarily block a ban on distributing food and water to voters waiting in long lines to cast their ballot and a requirement for voters to write their birthdate on their absentee ballot upon penalty of their vote being discarded ahead of Georgia’s 2024 elections in the lawsuit Sixth District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church v. Kemp.
  • Protected the voting rights of Cobb County, Georgia, residents by using the courts to block their racially gerrymandered school district voting map ahead of school board elections in 2024 in the lawsuit Finn v. Cobb County Board of Elections and Registration.
  • Filed a lawsuit on behalf of The National Federation of the Blind of Alabama and four individuals against three Alabama counties in response to alleged failures to provide accessible options for blind and print-disabled voters exercising their right to cast their ballots.
  • Filed a lawsuit on behalf of voters in Florida after Governor Ron DeSantis suspended Monique Worrell, the only Black woman state attorney in Florida, from her duly elected position as the top state prosecutor in Orlando.

Fighting White Supremacy

“Working with has been incredibly empowering. The team has been an unwavering support system for me, they have truly stood in the fire with me and given me a great opportunity to continue to battle for students in this fight for justice.”
– Katie Rinderle

Katie Rinderle sits with copy of My Shadow Is Purple picture book.
Katie Rinderle was terminated from her position as a schoolteacher in Cobb County, Georgia, in May 2023 after reading My Shadow Is Purple — a picture book promoting inclusivity selected by her students and purchased at the school’s book fair — to her class. The is currently representing Rinderle as she challenges the school board’s decision. (Credit: Audra Melton.)

The works to expose the influence of hate and extremist groups and dismantle white supremacy. We investigate extremists and hold their leaders accountable for their attempts to sow division and destroy our nation. We promote anti-racist, anti-bias action that prevents radicalization and moves us closer to our vision of safe, resilient communities celebrating diversity and inclusion.

  • Published S. Youth Attitudes on Guns, a groundbreaking study on gun violence, in partnership with the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab at American University (PERIL) and Everytown for Gun Safety. The research draws a connection between gun culture and radicalization, serving as an invaluable guide for communities trying to reduce gun-related violence.
  • Testified at the United Nations on human rights violations, hate crimes and attacks on voting in the U.S. during the review of the country’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
  • Uncovered and helped derail the formation of a neo-Nazi “Blood Tribe” compound in rural Maine.
  • Successfully advocated for the removal of a large Confederate memorial from Arlington National Cemetery through our Whose Heritage program.
  • Released Combating Anti-LGBTQ+ Pseudoscience Through Accessible Informative Narratives (CAPTAIN), a report exposing and debunking the vast network of anti-LGBTQ+ junk science influencing state and federal legislation.

Moving Forward

Crowd of people hold up signs that read "I March For ..."
Jubilee participants cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 3, 2024, to mark the 59th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. (Credit: Alyssa Pointer)

supporters make our pursuit of a more equitable world possible.

In 2023, we saw that a brighter future is possible through the impact we made together.

Let’s keep working alongside communities to protect and expand our multiracial democracy, building on the victories of yesterday to create an even better tomorrow.

In 2024, the is ...

  • Acting as a barrier against last-minute legislative attempts to stifle Black and Brown communities ahead of local, state and federal elections.
  • Cultivating meaningful, enduring ties to the communities we serve through on-the-ground partnerships and civic engagement programs.
  • Promoting truthful, inclusive education that reflects the experiences of all students and resisting censorship in the classroom.
  • Tracking and monitoring the activities of extremists during a contentious presidential race.

Thank you for marching with us.

Download the full report