The State of Things
12:47 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

The Editor And The Dragon: A North Carolina Journalist Takes On The Ku Klux Klan

The Editor and the Dragon
Credit south.unc.edu / Southern Oral History Program
Host Frank Stasio talks with filmmakers Walt Campbell and Martin Clark

A new film debuts on UNC-TV tonight, Thursday January 9th. "The Editor and The Dragon: Horace Carter Fights The Klan" tells the inside story of a man of courage, the journalist Horace Carter.

Filmmakers describe the story this way:

In 1953, Ernest Hemingway received a Pulitzer Prize for his monumental work The Old Man and the Sea. That same year, the Pulitzer committee also awarded a prize to 32-year-old UNC graduate Horace Carter, editor of the Tabor City Tribune (NC), who was in the middle of a real-life struggle with the Ku Klux Klan in his small town.

Carter earned a Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service for his reporting on the Ku Klux Klan. Despite receiving death threats against himself and his family, Carter used the editorial authority of the Tribune to protest the Klan’s racist rhetoric and vigilantism. Carter’s bold reporting and the unwavering integrity of his editorials helped lead to the first federal intervention in the South during that era, and to the arrest and conviction of nearly 100 klansmen.

Horace Carter's story started one July day in 1950 when he witnessed a Ku Klux Klan motorcade drive through town. Carter was a journalist at the time, and he began doing Klan-related reporting for the Tabor City Tribune. He continued writing for three years. The filmmakers have collected some of those original articles.

Producers Martin Clark (Left) and Walt Campbell (Right), with Horace Carter (Center).
Credit Martin Clark

Walt Campbell and Martin Clark were producer/directors for the film.  (The trailer is available online.) The production is narrated by Morgan Freeman and presented by Memory Lane Productions and The Center for the Study of the American South. 

When I first arrived at the University of North Carolina in the fall of 2002, I found a letter in my History Department box from Rusty Carter welcoming me to UNC. Rusty enclosed copies of The Tabor City Tribune that featured his father’s editorials about the Ku Klux Klan and said he hoped we might make a film on his father’s life. I replied that I was especially moved to read about his father’s courageous editorials and agreed that his life richly deserved to be captured on film. - Bill Ferris, Senior Associate Director, The Center for the Study of the American South

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