Noted civil rights attorney to serve as keynote speaker at annual dinner April 30

Morris Dees, renowned civil rights attorney and founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, will be keynote speaker at the 2017 annual dinner of the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights. The event begins with a 4 p.m. reception and dinner at 5 o’clock on Sunday, April 30 at Marygrove College, 8425 W. McNichols, Detroit.

Dees formed the Southern Poverty Law Center in 1971 to help cement the gains of the civil rights movement and end the vestiges of Jim Crow segregation in the Deep South. Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is internationally-known for tracking the activities of white supremacists and other hate groups.

The Michigan Coalition for Human Rights also will present four awards at the dinner for outstanding work and leadership in human rights as follows:

• Bishop Coleman H. McGehee Jr. Champion of Justice Award – To Morris Dees for his nearly 50 years of tireless human and civil rights advocacy and the promotion of acceptance and tolerance. Dees and the SPLC are noted for successful legal cases against the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups to gain justice on behalf of their victims.  SPLC also brings cases which challenge institutional racial segregation and discrimination; inhumane and unconstitutional conditions in prisons and detention centers; discrimination based on sexual orientation and the mistreatment of illegal immigrants. 

• Lifetime Activist Achievement Award – To Dr. Gloria House, retired director of African American Studies Department at University of Michigan, for her decades of activism. House was a leader of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s. She and was shot at and jailed fighting for civil rights in the Deep South. Co-founder of the Justice for Cuba Coalition and Detroit Coalition against Police Brutality, she has been involved in registering black citizens to vote and has written and edited numerous volumes of poetry and social commentary.

• Organizational Activist Award – To the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan for its dedicated legal advocacy on behalf of Flint citizens victimized by the city’s water crisis; its ongoing efforts on behalf of immigrant rights; its education reform initiatives in Detroit; and its advocacy and strong support for LGBT equality.

• Community Activism Award – To the Campaign to Take on Hate which challenges hate and bigotry in neighborhoods, communities and schools in Michigan and throughout the country. Take on Hate is led by the National Network for Arab American Communities a program of Dearborn-based Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services.
Founded in 1980, the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights ( is a nonprofit group dedicated to universal human rights. MCHR’s mission, in solidarity with those who suffer oppression and injustice locally and global, is to promote awareness of and commitment to human rights through education, community organization and action. 

Single tickets for the dinner cost $60, while the price is $100 for dinner and the reception with Morris Dees.

For additional information on the annual dinner and/or the availability of tickets, contact or (248) 224-8964.