Expert on hate groups to speak at Linfield College

Civil rights advocate Mark Potok will speak on hate groups and extremism, including in the Pacific Northwest, in Ice Auditorium on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 7:30 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Potok is a senior fellow with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organization dedicated to fighting hate groups and bigotry, and promoting tolerance and respect. More than a thousand hate groups operate in the country, including neo-Nazis, Klansmen, racist skinheads and border vigilantes. Potok is one of the country’s leading experts on this world of extremism, and exposes crimes and hate activities as editor of the award-winning journal, the Intelligence Report. He also produces investigative reports for the SPLC Hatewatch blog.

Potok has appeared on numerous television news programs and is regularly quoted by journalists and scholars in the U.S. and abroad. He has testified before the U.S. Senate and the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights, as well as other venues.

Prior to joining the SPLC staff in 1997, Potok spent two decades as an award-winning journalist at major newspapers. At USA Today, he covered the 1993 Waco siege, the rise of militias, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the trial of domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh.

The Southern Poverty Law Center was founded in Montgomery, Ala., to ensure that the promises of the civil rights movement became a reality. New laws enacted in the 1960s failed to bring fundamental changes in the South, and with few lawyers willing to test controversial cases, there were not many places the disenfranchised and poor could go for justice.

In response, Alabama lawyer Morris Dees began to take pro bono cases and eventually founded the SPLC. Today the organization carries forward its mission of seeking justice and equality for society’s most vulnerable citizens.

In this first-of-its-kind cooperative venture, Potok will speak at Willamette University the night after his lecture at Linfield.

Potok will meet with Linfield College students and others during his day-long visit, which is sponsored by the Department of Mass Communication and the Office of Multicultural Programs. For more information contact Professor Brad Thompson at

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