Goodloe Sutton’s racist remarks result in consequences
The University of Southern Mississippi School of Communication administrators removed Goodloe Sutton from the school’s Hall of Fame Tuesday morning after he wrote an editorial for the Linden (Ala.) Democrat-Reporter calling for the revival of the Ku Klux Klan.
Sutton was the executive editor of The Student Printz from March 1963 until February 1964, one year before Southern Miss enrolled its first African American students.
Sutton is now the editor and publisher of The Democrat-Reporter.
In his editorial for the Feb. 14 edition of the paper, Sutton complained about the possible rise in taxes and suggested the KKK “clean up” the “Democrats in the Republican Party and Democrats” in Washington, D.C.
“Time for the Ku Klux Klan to night ride again,” he said.
The Montgomery Advertiser talked to Sutton days after the paper was published, and he stood by his statements.
When Advertiser reporter Melissa Brown asked Sutton if the KKK was a violent organization, he said, “A violent organization? Well, they didn’t kill but a few people. The Klan wasn’t violent until they needed to be.”
In the same interview, he endorsed lynching.
Robert “Bob” Roule was one of Sutton’s classmates and was the executive editor of The Student Printz in the spring of 1964 after Sutton.
After reading Sutton’s words, Roule said, “Goodloe has flipped his lid. He’s not the Goodloe I knew back in college.”
In 2007, The USM School of Communication recognized Sutton and his wife, Jean, for “journalistic excellence” after their reporting on corruption within the Marengo County Sheriff Department during the 1990s.
Mass communication and journalism professor Christopher Campbell was the director of the school when Sutton was inducted. Campbell said other journalists at the event “decried racism and lauded journalism’s efforts to combat it” with a panel of notable journalists and Jon Frazier, an African American who was denied entry into the university in the 1960s.
“Goodloe Sutton did not utter anything too remotely racist or offensive,” Campbell said in an email. “His appearance primarily included his dramatic (and rambling) description of how he and his late wife, both former Printz editors, went about covering corruption in his small town.”
Campbell described Sutton’s recent comments as “painful and sickening.”
“I fear Mr. Sutton’s recent comments are part of a disturbing pattern that has surfaced in our country the last few years – lots of people seem to be willing to unapologetically make horribly racist statements, inspired by right-wing radio and TV pundits and the president. Again, his comments were painful and sickening. My sense is that he probably has mental health issues and needs help, counseling and prayers,” he said.
The School of Communication released a statement after Sutton made national headlines.
“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,”
“The School of Communication strongly condemns Mr. Sutton’s remarks as they are antithetical to all that we value as scholars of journalism, the media and human communication. Our University’s values of social responsibility and citizenship, inclusion and diversity, and integrity and civility are the foundation upon which we have built our School and its programs.
Goodloe Sutton was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the School of Mass Communication & Journalism, the predecessor to the School of Communication, in 2007 based on his anti-corruption articles and editorials in the 1990s that earned him and his wife Jean numerous national and international journalism awards.
In light of Sutton’s recent and continued history of racist remarks, however, the School of Communication has removed his place in our Hall of Fame.”
Auburn University’s Journalism Advisory Council voted to revoke Sutton’s community journalism award and the Alabama Press Association Board of Directors censured Sutton. It also suspended the membership of The Democrat-Reporter.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are 72 active KKK chapters in the United States. While Washington, D.C., has none, Alabama has five.
Allyssa Bass is a reporter for The Student Printz, the student newspapers of The University of Southern Mississippi.