Southern Poverty Law Center Legal Director Mary Bauer '90 to Discuss Modern Civil Rights Struggle in Honor of MLK Day

January 28, 2013

Mary Bauer, legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center and an alumna of the University of Virginia School of Law, will speak at the Law School as part of UVA's annual commemoration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

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Mary Bauer

Bauer, who guides the SPLC's legal advocacy and its public policy and legislative reform efforts, will deliver a lecture, "Bending Toward Justice: The Struggle for Civil Rights Today," at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 31 in Caplin Pavilion.

The SPLC is one of the country's most prominent civil rights organizations, with a focus on fighting hate and bigotry, as well as seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society. The nonprofit is particularly known for its efforts to track and expose the activities of hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

Prior to being named the SPLC's legal director in 2009, Bauer was the first director of the center's Immigrant Justice Project. She has led a number of major lawsuits aimed at enforcing the rights of immigrants, foreign guest workers and migrant farmworkers.

In 2008, Bauer visited the Law School and discussed her work on behalf of immigrants, many of whom were subject to harsh working conditions, abuse and exploitation.

"When one group of people may be abused and exploited with impunity, that obviously degrades the working conditions, wages and civil rights of everyone here in our society," she said. "There's a moral dimension to our work as well. We simply believe it is the right thing to do."

Bauer was co-author of three SPLC reports that received national attention: "Close to Slavery: Guestworker Programs in the United States," "Under Siege: Life for Low-Income Latinos in the South" and "Injustice on Our Plates: Immigrant Women in the U.S. Food Industry."

Bauer graduated from the College of William and Mary and earned her law degree from UVA in 1990.

She was the first UVA Law student to receive a Skadden Fellowship, one of the nation's most prestigious public service awards for recent law school graduates.


Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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