March Across Dixie
October 13, 2002-January 27,2003
What would possess a Black man, who served in the United States of America
during the Vietnam War, and who presided over the local branch of the NAACP,
to pick up a Confederate Battle Flag and march 1600 miles across Dixie? Some
people just want to think I’m crazy. Some people know I’m not crazy,
but they want you to think I am crazy, so that you will just dismiss me as a
crank. They don’t want you to know what I know or the find out way I am
so passionate for everyone to find out about the true history of the South.
As Chairman of the Board of Advisors of the Southern Legal Resource Center
(a civil rights, non-profit law firm that specializes in cases involving violations
against Southern heritage and Confederate symbols) and as one of it s Directors,
I have been very active in encouraging school children to take pride in their
heritage and symbols. I have spoken to Southern heritage group all over the
Southland of America. I have tried to influence these Southern babies to proudly
wear their Dixie Outfitters apparel and to fly or display the Christian Cross
of St. Andrew on the Confederate Battle Flag.
Unfortunately, it is hard to be a Southerner these days in an increasingly
anti-Southern and intolerant society. The SLRC monitors anti-Confederate incidents,
called heritage violations. The schools seem to be the worst violators and the
abuses have been growing.
The more I have seen the incidents of intolerance against Confederate symbols
grow, the more concerned I have become about our ability to help these babies
who may get in trouble for a simple expression of pride for their heritage.
It blows my mind how in America, where everyone is encouraged to celebrate their
diversity, Southerners are supposed to be ashamed of their diversity.
I got to thinking about our responsibility to these babies. I have found it
hard to sleep at night, knowing that when they came to us for help, we would
not have the financial ability to help them.
Well, you know, God will come and shake you as you lay there in your room,
heart burdened, looking for a way to help. It came to me during that shaking
to march across Dixie and ask my whole Southern family to make pledges for each
Traveling on foot accompanied by my little brother, Terry Lee Edgerton, who
would make a video documentary of the journey, we left Asheville carrying the
Confederate flag, led by a strong sense of ancestral duty and loyalty to our
Southern Land; while armed with the knowledge that she had been and continues
to be wronged by the very nation she helped build.
Twenty miles per day (some times more) six days per week, day after day among
our Southern family; Terry Lee photographed or filmed them, capturing their
What began as a fund raising project and cultural awakening campaign quickly
took on the flavor of a family reunion. Folks of all hues and views came out
to greet us. They brought contributions, food, drink, tales of valor and legends
of bravery passed down through their families, Blacks and White. Most importantly,
they gave us their prayers and wished us Godspeed.
It is said that a picture tells a thousand words. We took pictures and the
visual documentation of this journey speaks volumes. It tells a different story
that what you are usually told by the media. I did not always understand how
the War Between the State fit in to the Black experience in America. But since
my association with the Southern Legal Resource Center, I have come to have
a great deal of understanding about how the results of that war continue to
have a fundamental effect on our culture.
I am convinced that we must come to terms with and learn from
that past. White Southerners have a legacy of heroism form the War that should
not be buried. Black Southerners earned a place of dignity during the War and
they have a legacy of honor that they need to reclaim. I found in my journey
that while these lessons may be lost upon the cities of the New South, the path
to peace and racial reconciliation still lies along the dusty back roads of