Last weekend, The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dedicated their Civil Rights Memorial Center’s theater in honor of the legendary Grammy award-winning songwriter Mike Stoller and his wife, acclaimed musician Corky Hale Stoller.
The Stoller’s are committed human rights advocates and longtime supporters of SPLC. Their unwavering dedication to justice and equality was recognized in downtown Montgomery where the Civil Rights Memorial Center’s Theater was named the Mike Stoller and Corky Hale Stoller Civil Rights Memorial Theater.
“We are grateful that Corky Hale Stoller and Mike Stoller have been a part of the SPLC family for more than 30 years,” said SPLC co-founder Morris Dees. “Their passion for helping those with few champions, their moral support and their personal friendship have been invaluable. Naming the Civil Rights Memorial Theater in their honor not only recognizes these two human rights stalwarts, it serves as a reminder of the importance they play in the continuing march for justice in our country.”
Mike Stoller created such rock hits as “Hound Dog,” Stand By Me,” “Jailhouse Rock,” Yakety Yak,” and and the hit Broadway show “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” with his songwriting partner, the late Jerry Leiber.
The Leiber and Stoller song catalog became the soundtrack of the 1950s and early 1960s, paving the way for their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 as well as the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1985.
Corky Hale Stoller, a pianist, singer and jazz harpist, is an accomplished session musician who has performed with Barbra Streisand Tony Bennett, Elton John, Frank Sinatra and Billy Holiday among many other notables.
“We have always supported the Southern Poverty Law Center, because Morris Dees and the SPLC not only defend the rights of people without the ability to defend themselves, but uses all legal means to identify and prosecute those hate groups that seek to destroy our country,” the Stoller’s said.
The dedication ceremony was attended by several notable public figures including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Julian Bond, the SPLC’s first president and a former board member served as guest presenter and spoke about how the history of rock music illustrates the centrality of race in the cultural history of the United States.
In addition to supporting the SPLC’s mission, the Stoller’s also support Planned Parenthood and serve on the board of the National Coalition to Ban Gun Violence.
Their name graces the Stoller Filer Health Center in Compton, Calif., which also honors Maxcy Dean Filer, the late civil rights activist and city councilman.
Corky Hale Stoller has served on the national advisory board of NARAL and the national advisory board of Planned Parenthood, and is now on the California board of the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project.
Sponsored by the SPLC, the Civil Rights Memorial Center in downtown Montgomery is an interpretive center containing exhibits about the people and events inscribed on the Civil Rights Memorial outside the center.
The memorial, dedicated in 1989, includes the names of 40 individuals who were killed by Klansmen and other white supremacists during the civil rights movement.
It was designed by Maya Lin, the creator of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.