MacArthur Fellows Program

Leonard H. Zeskind

Human Rights Leader and Journalist | Class of 1998

Human Rights Leader and Journalist
Kansas City, Missouri
49 at time of award
Published July 1, 1998

About Leonard's Work

Leonard Zeskind is an internationally recognized expert on white supremacist movements in the United States and abroad.

Zeskind has made a significant contribution to an emerging national awareness of the dangers of racist and militantly anti-government hate groups. Until his work on racism and hate groups appeared, the international scope, strength, and resiliency of organized extremist groups were not widely recognized. His expertise derives from more than two decades of monitoring a broad range of Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi publications, his network of informants, and his contacts with organizations and communities working to counter racism, anti-Semitism, and fascism in the United States and in Europe. He develops coherent analyses of these extremist movements and presents them to the media in such a manner that it becomes the basis for their own continuing research and reporting.


Zeskind was a union organizer and community activist prior to founding the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights in 1983, of which he is president. He was research director (1985-94) of the Center for Democratic Renewal, a national clearinghouse for efforts to counter hate-group activity.

Zeskind is the author of When Hate Groups Come to Town (1992). His articles have appeared in the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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