The controversial editor who called for the “Ku Klux Klan to night ride again” and lynch people turned over leadership of his dying newspaper to an African-American woman after coming under an avalanche of criticism.
Elecia R. Dexter is now the editor of The Democrat-Reporter, a weekly newspaper in Linden, Alabama, the New York Times reported on Sunday.
Dexter, 46, said she has a background in human resources and started working in the front office of the newspaper a few weeks ago. She recalled having a “very open and direct dialogue” with Goodloe Sutton after he published the latest in a long history of racially-tinged editorials. He offered Dexter the job, as she was debating in her mind whether to leave the company.
Sutton said Dexter is someone “who can get things done.”
He received his 15 minutes of national fame after the Montgomery Advertiser confirmed on Feb. 18 that he wrote a Feb. 14 editorial that called for the KKK’s revival. In his piece, Sutton said he wanted “the Klan to go up there and clean out D.C.” of Democrats and Republicans who act like Democrats.
The editor stood by his words when the Montgomery Advertiser asked for clarification. “We’ll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them,” Sutton said, clearly advocating lynching.
Sutton’s family has owned the newspaper, which has been in existence since 1879, for decades. But it had become “a one-man show” under Sutton’s leadership, according to The Times. Circulation has fallen to a few thousand.
Despite the firestorm, Sutton had declined to step down. However, he finally yielded on Saturday. The 80-year-old publisher said his decision had nothing to do with the controversy—pointing instead to his age.
Still, his alma mater was one of the first to part ways with Sutton.
“Within the last few hours, the School of Communication at the University of Southern Mississippi learned of Mr. Goodloe Sutton’s call for violence and the return of the Ku Klux Klan. Mr. Sutton’s subsequent rebuttals and attempts at clarification only reaffirm the misguided and dangerous nature of his comments,” a statement from the school said. “In light of Mr. Sutton’s recent and continued history of racist remarks, however, the School of Communication has removed his place in our Hall of Fame.”
The Democrat-Reporter said in a statement announcing the leadership change that the newspaper faces a “pivotal time” in its history.
“You may have full confidence in her ability to handle these challenging times,” it said.