Morris Dees was born in 1936 in Alabama, where he spent some time as a young boy working with African-Americans. What he witnessed during those formative years inspired him to embark on a career in civil rights that has spanned several decades.
Dees is white and the son of cotton farmers, but decided to become an attorney.
While attending the University of Alabama Law School, he and fellow student Millard Fuller established a very successful publishing company. Fuller eventually left the business and established Habitat for Humanity.
Dees stayed with the company but eventually sold it. He then formed the Southern Poverty Law Center in 1970, and has continued to work for civil rights ever since.
The Southern Poverty Law Center set up the Intelligence Project in 1980, followed by Teaching Tolerance in 1990.
Dees says he paid very close attention to this year's presidential election, which spurred a lot of discussion about race and ethnicity, and the lack of support from white males for the re-election of Barack Obama.
The country will only continue to become more diverse, he says, and it's incumbent on the political right to become more inclusive if it hopes to remain as relevant in the future as it has been in the past.
Watch the full interview with Morris Dees: