Activist Louisville minister starts community newspaper Colors for west Louisville

Rev. Gerome Sutton (seated) with staff in the office of his new West End newspaper, Colors. | Photo by Michael L. Jones

A Louisville minister is launching Colors a new African American newspaper this weekend at the Rabbit Hole Distillery on East Jefferson Street. Colors will be a biweekly publication featuring news, commentary and themed issues focused on the West End.

Rev. Gerome Sutton of the African American Think Tank held a news conference on Thursday afternoon at the publication’s office on 18th Street, next to Sweet Peaches Cafe.

Sutton said Colors will by distributed by independent contractors who will sell it for $1 and keep half the proceeds. The minister said he hopes it becomes an economic opportunity for budding entrepreneurs.

“We are going to do it old-school style,” he explained. “We got about 40 young men and older men that are going to sell the paper in the street and walk the neighborhoods. Everybody gets to keep fifty cent off each paper. Then they bring us fifty cent back so we can produce the next edition.”

Sutton is more accustomed to making headlines than reporting them. In 2018, he called for a boycott of Papa John’s Pizza after the use of a racial slur by company founder John Schnatter.

Sutton said he came up with the idea for Colors six months ago, while he was recovering from prostate cancer treatments. In his down time, the minister watched a lot of local news and he said the West End coverage felt slanted and one-dimensional to him.

Sutton said he wanted to start a grassroots new gathering organization that would give a wider picture of the community.

The first issue of Colors, a new West End newspaper. | Photo by Michael L. Jones

Colors is edited by the local writer Chailey Hughes and features articles from West End residents, ministers and business leaders. The first issue of Colors is focused on health and wellness issues.

Sutton says future issues of the publication will tackle the city’s budget crisis, the achievement gap between black and white students in Jefferson County Public Schools, and economic development in west Louisville.

“Can’t nobody outside our community tell our story like us. I wouldn’t be arrogant enough, or conceited enough, to think I can tell the story of somebody that lives in the Highlands. But I can tell the story of a resident of the West End and a black man living in America. Colors will tell it exact, precise and to the point,” Sutton added.

The city does have an African American newspaper, the Louisville Defender. But Sutton said the Defender is not providing the city’s African-American community with the information it needs to deal with its current challenges.

The Defender was founded in 1933 by the owner of the Chicago Defender, and purchased by publisher Frank Stanley Jr. three years later. Under Stanley’s leadership, the Defender earned a national reputation for its Civil Rights coverage and muckraking.

Sutton said the current incarnation of the newspaper is “irrelevant” when it comes to local news.

“We’re going to be able to tell the truth in our newspaper. We’re going to focus on our real issues west of 9th Street,” he said. “The Louisville Defender carries a lot of national news. They go on the wire and get it, and just reprint it. We got great writers from within our own community, educators and people priming their own businesses.”

Rev. Gerome Sutton of the African American Think Tank. | Photo by Michael L. Jones

Insider reached out to the Defender’s Associate Publisher/Editor Yvonne Coleman Bach for a response to Sutton’s charges. Bach said: “The Louisville Defender newspaper has been in the community for over 80 years. The work we do speaks for itself.”

Kentucky Sol owner Anthony Gaines, a writer and advertiser in Colors, said the new publication is about more than competing with the Defender and other news agencies.

“I’m all about being honest in the community. So many people in different platforms talk about the problem and talk about the problem. I see this new newspaper as a way to take some action,” Gaines said.

Sutton funded the majority of the production costs for the first issue of Colors himself, but he expects more advertisers to support the paper as the community becomes aware of it.

“There is a hunger in the community for a publication like this,” he said. “We’ve allowed others to tell our stories for too long. When you give your story over to others, you are in trouble. I’m saying today that we’re taking our story back.”

The Colors release party will be held on Friday, July 19 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Rabbit Hole Distillery, 711 E. Jefferson St. The event is free and will be catered by Sweet Peaches. For more information, contact Rev. Gerome Sutton at 502-712-8902 or [email protected]