How a future white nationalist leader defected, and the price he paid

David Duke's godson has defected from white nationalism
(Image credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Derek Black was an heir apparent to the white nationalist movement: a godson to David Duke, who was once married to his mom; the son of Don Black, former KKK grand wizard and founder of the white nationalist site Stormfront; and a proponent of the term "white genocide" who spoke at white nationalist conferences, had his own AM radio show, and was an elected GOP official in Florida as a teenager.

Now, Derek Black is an admirer of President Obama, believes in multiculturalism and increased immigration, is studying Arabic and ancient Islamic culture, and is partially estranged from his family. The Washington Post published the story of how Black got from one place to another, with help from an orthodox Jewish classmate and other friends at a liberal arts college, and it's a remarkable tale.

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Derek Black published his renunciation of white nationalism in a letter to the Southern Poverty Law Center hate-watch group, which his father considered an enemy. Don Black had a rough time of it, and so did Derek's mother, Chloe. Derek paid a cost, too. The Washington Post's Eli Saslow explains:

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Derek returned home a few weeks later for his father's birthday, even though his mother and his half-sisters had asked him not to come. "I think I might be getting disowned," Derek had written to one college friend. But he was about to leave Florida for graduate school, and he wanted to say goodbye. He arrived at his grandmother's house for the party, and he would later remember how strange it felt when his half-sisters would barely acknowledge him. His mother was polite but cold. Don tried to invite Derek inside, but the rest of the family wanted him to leave. "I got uninvited to my own party," Don later remembered. "They said if I wanted to see him, we both had to go." [The Washington Post]

Read the entire story, including how Derek Black came to change his mind and how Donald Trump's campaign brought his past back to him, at The Washington Post.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.