Newspaper readers in Linden, Alabama may have thought they had been transported back in a time machine to the Jim Crow era when they read an editorial in the Democrat-Reporter earlier this week calling for the Ku Klux Klan to “night ride again” and called for the lynching of “socialist communists” in a campaign to rid Congress of “Democrats in the Republican Party and Democrats [who] are plotting to raise taxes in Alabama.”
Such unapologetic animosity towards Democrats from a paper with the party’s name on its masthead comes from the newspaper’s editor, publisher, and owner Goodloe Sutton who, when he was asked to clarify his definition of cleaning up the Washington political scene, said “we’ll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them.”
The backlash against the regressive and offensive editorial from all corners of the nation hit Sutton swiftly. Now, while Sutton may remain the owner of the paper for the time being, an African American woman has been named the new publisher and editor of the paper, according to a report at AL.com.
Elecia R. Dexter, a graduate of Eastern Illinois University with a bachelors degree in speech communication and two masters degrees in Human Services and Counseling, has taken the reins of the paper to help it recover from the controversy.
“We had a discussion yesterday and felt this was necessary to move forward. We’re hoping to move the paper in a different direction,” Dexter told AL.com today.
In a press release, the paper described Dexter as “a strategic leader with expertise in human resources, operations, and change management.”
“Ms. Dexter is coming in at a pivotal time for the newspaper and you may have full confidence in her ability to handle these challenging times.” the statement said.
Before Sutton handed over the management of the paper, however, he presided over a final edition that plastered the front page with positive letters to the editor that heaped praise on his hateful editorial.
According to Dexter, the infamous editorial and the reader responses that Sutton published don’t accurately reflect the views of the local community.
“We want to make sure people understand this is a great community of great families. We really want to make sure people know the paper is here for them,” she said.
As far as Sutton’s future plans go, he told AL.com that he was leaving media for good.
“I am going to quit and do nothing, play tiddlywinks and chase lewd women. I just need to figure out what I’m going to do when I catch one,” he joked.
The swift retribution that Sutton faced after his call for extrajudicial killings by the KKK — even in deep-red Alabama — provides some hope that the Trump era has not led to the complete deterioration of sanity in this country. Let’s just hope that the trend continues and the other white nationalists in our midst retire to their tiddlywinks to leave the rest of us in peace.
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Original reporting by Anna Beahm at AL.com and Melissa Brown at The Montgomery Advertiser.