A white newspaper editor and owner in Alabama who supported a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan is handing over control of his conservative weekly publication to a Black woman.
The Democrat-Reporter of Linden, Alabama, announced Friday that Elecia R. Dexter will take over as publisher and editor from Goodloe Sutton, who has run the 140-year-old paper since the 1960s.
Although Sutton will continue owning the weekly, which has a circulation of about 3,000 people, Dexter, 46, told The Associated Press that she “will handle everything else.”
Since he ran the paper, Sutton developed a history of publishing racially and ethnically insensitive editorials, according to NBC News.
Dexter said she hoped her appointment would signify to the community that “this is everybody’s paper.”
“I think it can be helpful,” she said.
The change happened a week after Sutton wrote and published an editorial that began: “Time for the Ku Klux Klan to night ride again.”
The editorial blamed Democrats and “Democrats in the Republican Party” for plotting to raise taxes, so Sutton argued the Klan should raid their communities.
In an interview with the Montgomery Advertiser, Sutton suggested that lynchings would help clean up Washington. Sutton also questioned whether the KKK was violent, claiming America’s most feared white supremacist terrorist organization “didn’t kill but a few people.”
Dexter, whose family is from rural Marengo County, near the Mississippi line – which is where the newspaper is located – said she started working at The Democrat-Reporter recently and has a good working relationship with Goodloe. She told NBC News: “I told him there were some different ways you could have made your point.”
Some in the community have written the paper supporting Sutton’s views and others wrote emails saying they were “disgusted” by his bigotry.
Sutton’s comments prompted Auburn University and the University of Southern Mississippi to rescind previous honors for him. Two decades ago, Sutton was heralded for running stories that exposed police corruption in the sheriff’s office. Because of his recent comments and newspaper articles, the Alabama Press Association censured Sutton and suspended the Democrat-Reporter’s membership.
The paper was founded in 1879, and its editorials tend to be right-leaning and often critical of Democrats. The irony in the name is that when the paper was created, white conservatives in the South were referred to as “Democrats.”