In Alabama, a 'Confederate Correspondent' is Born


To the joy of neo-Confederate activists in Alabama, Ellen Williams, a woman known for her white supremacist views, has been hired as a staff correspondent by The South Alabamian, a small weekly newspaper based in Jackson, Ala.

"This is wonderful news for us Southern Confederates," Ben Hestley, chief of heritage defense for the extremist-led Alabama division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), wrote in a June 6 E-mail to movement colleagues. "Congratulations to Ellen for becoming our first Confederate Correspondent."

Williams is a hard-line white nationalist who in 2004 joined her friend Pat Godwin in distributing a packet of documents that the two argued prove the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march was the "Mother of all Orgies." In one E-mail, she described neo-Nazi and former Klan leader David Duke as the "one man who stands openly and forthrightly for European American rights." In another, she lauded the Klan for having "prevented our losing our race to amalgamation."

"I'm aware of Ellen's position on certain things, but that doesn't have anything to do with our paper at all," South Alabamian Editor Evan Carden told the Intelligence Report. "She knows that we're not going to publish anything that's radical. ... I don't have a problem with what she does on her own time."

Williams, from nearby Leroy, was initially a regular contributor of letters to the editor, including a Jan. 19 letter suggesting that the media investigate Martin Luther King Jr. She then worked briefly for the newspaper as a free-lance reporter.

In that latter role, Williams contributed an April 27 story that The South Alabamian headlined, "Ceremony proves Dixie's heart still beats." The story described a rally in Montgomery, the state capital, commemorating Confederate Memorial Day. Williams wrote that "pride was evident on each face" and "many eyes were bright with tears," concluding in an upbeat tone that "the day's events gave evidence that the heart of Dixie is still beating after 145 years."

The same story approvingly quoted Leonard Wilson, head of the Alabama SCV. Williams neglected to mention that Wilson is a longtime segregationist who is on the board of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a hate group repudiated as racist by the Republican Party and the Conservative Political Action Committee. He earned the nickname of "Flagpole" Wilson by climbing a flagpole during 1956 anti-integration riots at the University of Alabama to shout, "Keep 'Bama white!"