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Civil Rights Attorney Speaks on “Appalachian Perspective”

BOONE—Of the 9,000 hate crimes committed annually in America, less than 5 percent can be blamed on organized hate groups, civil rights attorney Morris Dees says on “Appalachian Perspective,” the cable television program of Appalachian State University.

Instead, civil rights are threatened by individuals’ biases and prejudices.

“The hate movement isn’t affecting civil rights as much as the attitudes in America dealing with issues of diversity,” Dees says in the episode “Hate in America.”

As more Asians and Hispanics move to the United States and interracial and gay couples become more visible, “the domestic terrorism we’ve seen to date will be small compared to what we’ll see unless we can learn to get along with each other,” he says.

“Hate in America” begins airing the week of March 27. The 30-minute show airs weekdays at 6 p.m. on AppalNet’s cable Channel 76, Mondays at 8 p.m. on MTN’s cable channel 18, and Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. on Charter Communications’ cable Channel 2. The program also airs on outlets in Charlotte, Raleigh, Kannapolis, Newport and Winston-Salem.

Dees is co-founder and chief legal counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit group that combats hate, intolerance and discrimination through education and litigation. Its education program Teaching Tolerance is used in public schools nationwide. Its Intelligence Project tracks activities of hate and militia groups.

In the 1980s, he bankrupted the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups with a series of historic lawsuits.

“We’ve made great strides in this country in the 50 years since the civil rights movement, but we’ve taken three steps forward and taken two steps back. And the issues change,” Dees tells host Chancellor Francis T. Borkowski.

Dees also discusses 10 ways Americans can fight hate: act, unite, support victims, learn who and what you’re fighting and spread accurate information to others, do not attend a hate rally but instead find another outlet for anger and frustration, speak up, lobby leaders, look long-range and hold annual rallies or other events to celebrate your community’s diversity, teach tolerance, and look into issues that divide communities.

“Appalachian Perspective” is produced monthly by the Department of Communication and Office of Public Affairs.

For more information, contact producer Linda Coutant at (828) 262-2342 or coutantla@appstate.edu.

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