Update (March 15, 2019): A Black woman who replaced an Alabama news publisher after he wrote and published a racist editorial has resigned. Elecia R. Dexter said interference from her predecessor and the need to preserve her mental health made it impossible for her to run the paper.
The New York Times reports that just weeks after Dexter enthusiastically became the new editor and publisher of The Democrat-Reporter, she’s decided to cut ties with the publication.
“I would have liked it to turn out a different way, but it didn’t,” Dexter said. “This is a hard one because it’s sad — so much good could have come out of this.”
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Dexter, who says she’d been inspired by swarms of support from her Linden, Alabama, community, told the publication that her struggles with Goodloe Sutton are the cause for her departure.
Sutton, who resigned after writing and publishing a racially charged piece titled “Time for the Ku Klux Klan to Night Ride Again," has continued in his role as owner of the paper, and Dexter says he has continuously undermined her editorial decisions.
To support her claims, Dexter provided the Times with the text of a front-page article she says was rewritten by Sutton. In its original form, the article reported on Sutton's resignation. Dexter claims Sutton took that piece, revised it to defend his anti-Black stance and emailed it to media outlets with the subject line "Fake news hurts little paper."
Dexter claims this sort of interference has continued. She released a statement to the press on Thursday stating the most recent edition of the paper was also altered and “does not reflect the views or thoughts” of the new editorial team.
Dexter says her decision to step down did not come easily but given Sutton owns the paper she felt she had no other choice. In the end, she said she had to leave to preserve her “integrity and well-being.”
“The point is not to give those people all the energy,” said Dexter. “People like him will exist. That’s just the reality of life.”
Original: A Black woman is replacing the Alabama newspaper publisher who penned an opinion piece calling for the return of the Ku Klux Klan.
After writing a piece titled “Time for the Ku Klux Klan to Night Ride Again," Democrat-Reporter editor and publisher Goodloe Sutton has stepped down from his position.
Elecia R. Dexter will take his place.
Sutton told AL.com he was planning to leave the newspaper soon and joked that he was going "to quit and do nothing, play tiddlywinks and chase lewd women."
After a Thursday meeting that established her as the new editor and publisher of the newspaper, Dexter said it was time "to move forward."
“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 said.
A press release highlighted Dexter's ten years of operational and change management experience and stated that she was "coming in at a pivotal time for the newspaper" and urged the community of Linden, Alabama, to have "full confidence in her ability to handle these challenging times.”
Dexter holds dual master's degrees in counseling and human services. She also graduated with a bachelor's degree in speech communication from Eastern Illinois University.
“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.
Following the publication of the article on February 14, U.S. Rep. Terri A. Sewell (D-AL) slammed Sutton in a tweet saying "lynching is not a joke."
For the millions of people of color who have been terrorized by white supremacy, this kind of “editorializing” about lynching is not a joke – it is a threat. These comments are deeply offensive and inappropriate, especially in 2019. Mr. Sutton should apologize and resign. https://t.co/AOYYGINEdh— Rep. Terri A. Sewell (@RepTerriSewell) February 19, 2019
U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) also called for his resignation, tweeting that the editorial was "absolutely disgusting."
OMG! What rock did this guy crawl out from under? This editorial is absolutely disgusting & he should resign -NOW!— Doug Jones (@DougJones) February 19, 2019
I have seen what happens when we stand by while people-especially those with influence- publish racist, hateful views.
Words matter. Actions matter. Resign now! https://t.co/V1V1vxDBKH
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