The former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard said he wanted to assemble a team of lawyers to defend the rights of whites in the courts, much the way, he said, that the NAACP has used the court system to protect minorities.
"We believe that European Americans today face massive institutionalized racial discrimination in programs such as affirmative action, college admissions, college scholarships, jobs, promotions, but also in terms of a cultural discrimination that we feel is launched against European Americans in the media," said Duke.
He said he already had members in 30 states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Duke's camp will start a membership drive next week, and expects to set up chapters in every state.
Tyler Bridges, who wrote a biography of Duke, The Rise of David Duke, described Duke's new organization as a bid for publicity.
"This organization is just the latest of a long line of groups that have a similar ideology: hatred of Jews, and fear that the white gene pool of this country is going to be tainted and that this country will become a nonwhite nation."
Ken Jacobsen, assistant national director of the Anti-Defamation League, called Duke's announcement a transparent effort by "a leading racist and hater" to recast himself as a civil-rights leader. "This is just one more manifestation in a different guise," he said.
Duke's speech to the press club was something of a rambling tour of the racial and cultural hot-button issues of the 20th century. He dropped references to the "Jewish press," dismissed Kwanzaa as a "pagan celebration," and described the Holocaust as an "alleged" attempt to destroy the Jewish people.
Duke said that whites were at risk of becoming a minority in America, a development that could mean the devaluation of the race's artistic, literary and scientific contributions.
It is not the first time Duke has formed an organization geared toward whites. After resigning in 1979 as national director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Duke formed the National Association for the Advancement of White People. He left that organization when he was elected to Louisiana's House of Representatives.
Duke's career is now at a crossroads. It has been about a decade since he held elective office. Since leaving the state House seat from suburban New Orleans, he has lost races for governor, congressman and president. In 1999, Duke received 28,000 votes in a losing bid for a congressional seat.