New effort will combat threats to fundamental human rights and racial justice as well as push for a government that reflects the diversity and will of the people
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Today, the SPLC Action Fund, the 501(c)(4) affiliate of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), announced the launch of its New Southern Leaders federal Political Action Committee (PAC) and its New Southern Majority federal Independent Expenditure Committee (IE – a.k.a. “Super PAC”) to help recruit, support and drive greater diversity among political candidates running for local offices throughout the South.
The following is a statement from Margaret Huang, President and CEO of the SPLC Action Fund:
“While many suburban counties have become more progressive and diverse in the last decade, local elected leadership remains overwhelmingly white and conservative. And these incumbents often keep winning simply because they run unopposed. In Southern states, it is not unusual for upwards of half of local elections to be uncontested. And that is how we end up with school boards that are not only banning books but also the teaching of Black history and culture, and the Holocaust; cities that arrest and kill Black citizens at a rate five times greater than whites; and elections deniers in charge of counting votes in elections.
“At the local level, we can make an immediate impact on many important issues, including reducing the number of Black men who are incarcerated; ending the criminalization of homelessness and poverty; ensuring that we have free and fair elections; and having inclusive public schools that do not restrict the teaching of science, biology, Black history, the Holocaust and LGBTQ identity.
“The New Southern Leaders PAC and New Southern Majority IE PAC will focus on recruiting and supporting a fresh new wave of candidates. Running for office for the first time, against a multi-term incumbent, is a challenge that takes courage and resources, which is why we plan to work with communities of color to build their political power by supporting Black and Brown candidates – particularly given the intense attacks against their voting rights and the blatant disregard from current elected officials. This fall, New Southern Majority IE PAC plans to spend up to $800,000 on local elections in Georgia.
"We’re extremely excited to also announce that former U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) will be serving on the board of the New Southern Majority IE PAC and that our political organizations will be collaborating with the Senator’s PAC, Right Side of History PAC, in pursuit of our common goal of winning elections in the South. As a dogged campaigner who never compromised on his beliefs in a cynical attempt to win votes in a Deep Red state, the Senator’s integrity serves as a model of how we too will lean into our values when supporting and opposing candidates, that we won’t be moderating our beliefs for political expediency.”
The following is a statement from former U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL):
“Like many Alabamans, I have long admired the Southern Poverty Law Center for its tenacity to fight against the odds and bring about meaningful change that can still be felt decades later. I’m excited to be able to work with the SPLC in my political capacity, and for our PACs to collaborate on building the necessary infrastructure to win in the South.
“And winning in the South is more important than ever. What happens down here affects everyone in our nation. The populations in Southern states are rapidly growing and becoming more diverse. We are gaining seats in Congress and becoming more competitive for progressives, while Northern and Midwest states are losing House seats and drifting rightward. More Southern states could follow the trajectory of Georgia, but only if we are willing to make a long-term investment in these states, looking beyond winning just the next federal election, and being willing to build Black and Brown political power from the bottom up.”
In closing, Huang echoed,
“No matter where you live, local elections in the South affect you. We must all think beyond this November and look ahead to elections that are four, six and even eight years away. And, that’s precisely what both the New Southern Leaders and the New Southern Majority will be doing.”
For over 50 years, the SPLC has been championing social justice and civil rights through our legal and legislative advocacy. With the formation of the New Southern Leaders PAC and New Southern Majority IE PAC – which are wholly-separate entities from the SPLC and the SPLC Action Fund – a greater focus will be placed on:
- ending mass incarceration and police violence against Black and Brown citizens;
- stopping the underfunding of communities of color that keeps them trapped in poverty;
- advocating for greater diversity and representation in local- and county-elected positions;
- ensuring that we have free and fair elections;
- engaging with communities about the importance of local-elected offices to encourage greater participation in off-year and down-ballot elections; and more.
The PACs will limit their activity to Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana. They will prioritize local elected positions related law enforcement, education, and elections administration, as well as supporting candidates of color.
About the New Southern Leaders PAC
The New Southern Leaders PAC recruits and supports candidates running for office in the South who stand for racial justice and work to advance human rights for all people. It provides candidate and staff training, resources, and technical guidance to help campaigns get started. As a federal PAC, it may coordinate with campaign committees, and make direct and in-kind contributions to them. The PAC may also register at the state or local level, as required by law.
About the New Southern Majority IE PAC
The New Southern Majority IE PAC makes independent expenditures for candidates running for office in the South who stand for racial justice and work to advance human rights for all people. It also holds elected officials who break their promises accountable. As a federal independent expenditure committee, it may not coordinate with or contribute to campaign committees. The IE may also register at the state or local level, as required by law.