Remember the Newspaper that Published a Pro-KKK Op-Ed? A Black Woman is Now in Charge.

Elecia Dexter was going to quit. Instead, she became the boss.

Courtesy of Elecia Dexter

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Elecia Dexter was shocked when her boss, the editor and publisher of a weekly newspaper in Linden, Alabama, wrote an editorial encouraging the return of the Ku Klux Klan. Goodloe Sutton’s story, headlined “Klan Needs to Ride Again,” drew nationwide coverage, as did Sutton’s follow-up interviews, in which he spoke approvingly of lynching “socialist-communists” in Washington, DC.

Dexter, a communications and human resources specialist, had worked as an administrator at the Democrat-Reporter for several months. But after Sutton’s February 14 editorial, she planned to quit. “I couldn’t believe it,” Dexter, who is black, told the Guardian. “I was in shock.”

Succumbing to media pressure, Sutton stepped aside the following week. He offered the role to Dexter, who accepted. Last Wednesday, in her first editorial, she promised readers a new direction. Under a photo of her, the headline read: “I am Alabama too!”

Dexter has been welcomed by many Alabamians eager to move past Sutton, who had a history of demeaning black people and once referred to the former president as “Leroy Obama.”

“The good people of Linden deserve so much better than these racist rants and I am confident they will get it with new editor, Elecia Dexter,” tweeted Sen. Doug Jones (D-Alabama).

Dexter, who moved to the area last year, tells me that her next editorial will address the support she has gotten from local residents, as well as her plans for the paper.

“It’s a blessing,” Dexter says of her new job. “But it’s surreal, too.”

Recharge is a weekly newsletter full of stories that will energize your inner hellraiser. Sign up at the bottom of the story.

  • “Tucked-in Tuesdays.” A new Texas elementary school principal is making bedtime stories personal. Each Tuesday evening, Belinda George hosts a Facebook Live and reads a children’s book. Her videos have become popular, even spreading to families outside the Lone Star state. George, whose readings have included books such as Ladybug GirlMadeline’s Christmas, and Astronaut Handbook, says that she does anything she can to help build relationships and connection: “If a child feels loved they will try.” Recharge reader Karen Weintraub, who suggested this article, said she’d volunteer to read Wednesday nights. Any other takers? (Washington Post)
  • Where no woman has gone before. Director Hanelle Culpepper will become the first woman to launch a new series in the Star Trek franchise’s 53-year history. “Proud to join the #StarTrek legacy,” tweeted Culpepper, who has worked on TV shows such as Parenthood and Criminal Minds, as well as two episodes of Star Trek Discovery. The as-yet untitled series will include Sir Patrick Stewart, reprising his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Culpepper will direct the first two episodes. (By the way, the world would have never known of Star Trek if a woman, then-studio head Lucille Ball, hadn’t given the original project a key push.) (Shadow and Act)
  • Return of the what? In 2013, the population of Devils Hole pupfish, one of the world’s rarest fish, fell to record lows: Only 35 of the fish were counted in its only known habitat, a submerged limestone cavern in Nevada. To keep the endangered species alive, scientists created a second habitat and breeding site, and they quelled a nasty beetle predator. Their work has paid off: Last fall, scientists counted 187 of the inch-long, electric blue fish in the wild—a 15-year high—in addition to about 70 more in a controlled lab. (National Geographic)
  • A Great Lake with rights. Upset over farm runoff and algae blooms that have poisoned their water, voters in Toledo, Ohio, last week gave Lake Erie the same rights as people. The ballot measure, supported by 61 percent of voters, gives the lake the right to “exist, flourish, and naturally evolve.” Supporters say the measure will allow them to survey the biggest polluters in the region and to sue on behalf of the lake. Disclosure: Your columnist grew up on the shores of Lake Erie, which the EPA says supplies drinking water for 11 million people. And for more background on the first-of-its-kind proposal, read Mother Jones‘ report from last month. (CityLab)
  • The latest from Hilde. Last week we wrote about the pre-teen reporter who was stopped and threatened by a cop while reporting in Patagonia, Arizona. Since then, Hilde Lysiak has gotten an apology from the town’s mayor, Andrea Wood. “We are sorry Hilde, we encourage and respect your continued aspirations as a successful reporter,” Wood said at a town council meeting last Wednesday. “We believe and fully support the constitutional right to freedom of speech in the public sector. We will not tolerate bias of any kind including infringement of freedom of speech.” (Orange Street News)
More Mother Jones reporting on Recharge

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE

We’re falling behind our online fundraising goals and we can’t sustain coming up short on donations month after month. Perhaps you’ve heard? It is impossibly hard in the news business right now, with layoffs intensifying and fancy new startups and funding going kaput.

The crisis facing journalism and democracy isn’t going away anytime soon. And neither is Mother Jones, our readers, or our unique way of doing in-depth reporting that exists to bring about change.

Which is exactly why, despite the challenges we face, we just took a big gulp and joined forces with The Center for Investigative Reporting, a team of ace journalists who create the amazing podcast and public radio show Reveal.

If you can part with even just a few bucks, please help us pick up the pace of donations. We simply can’t afford to keep falling behind on our fundraising targets month after month.

Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery said it well to our team recently, and that team 100 percent includes readers like you who make it all possible: “This is a year to prove that we can pull off this merger, grow our audiences and impact, attract more funding and keep growing. More broadly, it’s a year when the very future of both journalism and democracy is on the line. We have to go for every important story, every reader/listener/viewer, and leave it all on the field. I’m very proud of all the hard work that’s gotten us to this moment, and confident that we can meet it.”

Let’s do this. If you can right now, please support Mother Jones and investigative journalism with an urgently needed donation today.

payment methods

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE

We’re falling behind our online fundraising goals and we can’t sustain coming up short on donations month after month. Perhaps you’ve heard? It is impossibly hard in the news business right now, with layoffs intensifying and fancy new startups and funding going kaput.

The crisis facing journalism and democracy isn’t going away anytime soon. And neither is Mother Jones, our readers, or our unique way of doing in-depth reporting that exists to bring about change.

Which is exactly why, despite the challenges we face, we just took a big gulp and joined forces with The Center for Investigative Reporting, a team of ace journalists who create the amazing podcast and public radio show Reveal.

If you can part with even just a few bucks, please help us pick up the pace of donations. We simply can’t afford to keep falling behind on our fundraising targets month after month.

Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery said it well to our team recently, and that team 100 percent includes readers like you who make it all possible: “This is a year to prove that we can pull off this merger, grow our audiences and impact, attract more funding and keep growing. More broadly, it’s a year when the very future of both journalism and democracy is on the line. We have to go for every important story, every reader/listener/viewer, and leave it all on the field. I’m very proud of all the hard work that’s gotten us to this moment, and confident that we can meet it.”

Let’s do this. If you can right now, please support Mother Jones and investigative journalism with an urgently needed donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate