Former NAACP President Visits Boro To Promote Southern Heritage
H. K. Edgerton keynote speaker for confederate group banquet
By HOLLI DEAL BRAGG
In a passionate speech defending Southern heritage and the right
to wave the Confederate battle flag, North Carolina man H. K. Edgerton
roused patriotic emotions among those who attended the Lee/Jackson
Banquet hosted Monday by the Sons of Confederate Veterans Ogeechee
Rifles Camp 941.
Ordinarily, any speaker at such an event would stir the pride
in heritage so evident among the group, but Edgerton is a black
man and a former president of the Asheville, North Carolina chapter
of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
A Southern black man, he is quick to tell anyone who will listen.
Wearing a Dixie Outfitters jacket earlier in the day, he spoke
of his “March Across Dixie” in 2002 from North Carolina
Walking across the south, he bore a flag so many black and other
Americans have come to view as a symbol of hatred. Edgerton wants
to change that.
Carrying with pride the red Confederate flag with the blue St.
Andrew’s cross studded with stars, Edgerton made his march
in order to promote awareness and defend Southern heritage and
history he said belongs to blacks as well as whites.
Edgerton spoke bluntly as he denounced what he said are “lies”
taught in today’s schools, in today’s homes. Taking
down the Confederate flag, removing memorials to Confederate Gen.
Robert E. Lee from government buildings, and otherwise “erasing”
Southern heritage is “cultural genocide,” he said.
In a booming voice that did not require the aid of the microphone
provided, Edgerton told how a man at a university in Gettysburg
made a mockery by “hanging” the Confederate flag.
He spoke of how he was given a criminal trespass citation at
the University of Texas because he simply carried his flag on
campus and saluted statues of honored Confederate heroes.
He called Savannah Mayor Otis S. Johnson a “scalawag”
for ordering the removal of a Robert E. Lee portrait from the
city hall, but said many white officials across the South are
guilty for removal of Confederate symbols and stating they did
so to appease black citizens who might be offended.
“Down come the plaques and blame it on the blacks,”
Edgerton said he did not defend or glorify slavery, but that
it was not as Northerners depicted.
Black slaves were like family to white Southerners who owned
them. They were buried in the family cemeteries, loved, provided
for by their “masters,” he said.
“Black hands worked with white hands to till the soil,”
he said. “Trusted black slave family members” protected
the home and family while the men were away fighting.
Often, black slaves were sent to accompany young soldiers and
asked to “look after young marse (master),” he said.
If the war had lasted just a bit longer, an army of black Southerners
would have joined and things could have been different, he told
the crowd at the First United Methodist Church Social Hall Monday
“If Lee had waited 30 more days, his black help was on
the way,” he said. “Oh, I wish he hadn’t signed
(surrender papers) … because we were coming!”
‘Folks are not teaching the truth’
Edgerton protested the censure that does not allow students to
wear Dixie Outfitters or other clothing depicting the St. Andrew’s
cross to school.
He passed out copies of a picture of a Kentucky girl who worked
on her prom dress for four years, then was not allowed into the
school because it was fashioned after a rebel flag.
That was wrong, he said.
“All that baby girl wanted to do was honor her ancestors,”
he said. Speaking of how so many parents have accepted the ban
on such clothing, he said “I love those babies who say ‘no,
no, no mama, I’m going to school with my (Confederate) tee
The flag does not symbolize hate nor slavery. It is, as he said
former President Jimmy Carter once said, “a legitimate American
The real Southern history is not being taught, he complained.
“Folks around here are not teaching the truth,” he
said. “ … and I came here tonight to teach the truth.
I wish you had dragged all these black folks (in Statesboro) down
Only two other black guests attended the banquet.
Edgerton promoted friendship and love between the races, and
said if the truth is told, relationships between slaves and slave
owners was more like a family bond than anything.
“You can’t explain that to the Yankees,” he
said. “They don’t understand. Only love can explain
such a bond. We (blacks) are Southerners too. You can’t
separate black folks and white folks in the South., We’re
Yankees poisoned the minds of the freed blacks, he said, bribing
them and paying them to hate and despise whites.
White Southerners cared for their slaves and when the Emancipation
Proclamation was signed, “they didn’t send you off
in the woods and say ‘you’re free’ – they took
care of you,” he said.
Touching on a multitude of subjects, all connected to Southern
heritage and pride he said belongs to black Southerners as well
as white, Edgerton questioned the term “African-Americans.”
Africans, not white Southerners, set the ball rolling for the
slave trade that brought his great, great grandmother Hattie to
North Carolina, he said. “The Africans didn’t want
us then and they don’t want us now.”
He also denounced some leaders of the NAACP. “I believed
being president of the NAACP, that it was for all God’s
children, black, white, red or yellow,” he said. “I
was a little disillusioned at that.”
The Rev. Jessie Jackson is wrong in his ideas too, Edgerton said.
“Somebody call that scalawag Jessie Jackson and tell him
I’m over here at the real table of brotherhood,” he
screamed, working up a sweat as he defended his right to be proud
of his Southern roots.
“When (Union Gen. William T.) Sherman marched to the sea,
he burned black homes as well as white,” he said. “He
raped black women as well as white … stole food that would keep
a black child from starving as well as a white child.”
Edgerton spoke of how his mother, who was buried just last Saturday,
was given a funeral “with full Confederate honors”
and laughed as he imagined her “giving a full report to
In closing his stirring speech, Edgerton recited a poem as he
carried a vibrantly colored Confederate flag among the tables
where guests were seated.
“I am history .. I am heritage, not hate … look away,
Dixie Land … I am your flag.”
Afterwards, he gave away flags he had carried on his march to
Texas and on other quests to promote Southern heritage.