Derek Black is 27, and if things had gone as planned, he'd be a leading figure, perhaps the leading figure, of the white nationalism movement by now. As the Washington Post explains in a profile, he's got the pedigree: His father, Don Black, is the creator of the white nationalist website Stormfront, and Derek Black is also the godson of former KKK leader David Duke, who was once married to his mother. The younger Black not only grew up in this environment but embraced it, preaching about "white genocide," or the death of white culture, online and on the radio. As recently as 2008, after President Obama was elected, he was seen as "heir" to the movement as he declared, "The fight to restore White America begins now," at a national gathering. Then he went to college and everything changed.
Black chose New College of Florida because of its strong history program, even though it has the reputation of being a liberal school, writes Eli Saslow. Though he kept his racist views quiet on campus (he was still doing a radio show with his dad by phone), he was eventually "outed" and largely ostracized. But one acquaintance, an Orthodox Jew, reached out and included Black in regular dinners, in a deliberate attempt to influence him. It worked. The transformation was gradual, but Black eventually denounced white nationalism publicly. "I can't support a movement that tells me I can't be a friend to whomever I wish or that other people's races require me to think of them in a certain way or be suspicious at their advancements," he wrote. Click for the full story, which details his strained relations with his father. (Read more white supremacism stories.)