East Tennessee State University
Today August 31, 2006 because of the tremendous rain that was falling, I stood at the window contemplating on whether to once again cross the mountains into Johnson City, Tennessee. My sister like her mother must have been reading my mind. She gave me a tremendous tongue lashing about how I was always bragging about how my stock ran up while I was out marching with my Confederate Flag when the weather was bad. You’ve got your uniform on, now get out of here and run your stock up she said.
When I arrived in Johnson City, the rain was now falling harder. I did not hesitate; up Roan Street I would head to a grand ovation from most who passed by. Pretty well soaked, I arrived on the campus of East Tennessee State at approximately 10:15 A.M.. I headed straight to Dr. Collin Baxter’s office for the fourth time ; expecting once again to hear the nice lady tell me that he was not in. However, this time she instructed me to go on back to his office. We introduced ourselves, and I told Dr. Baxter that my brother and dear friend the Tennessee Brigade Commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Jim Maddox had nothing but praise for him, but that I had come on an extremely unpleasant mission. He informed me that he too felt that not only was Commander Maddox an honorable man , but also one who was very knowledgeable. I explained to him that Professor Andrew Slap had humiliated and placed great shame on one of his students, T.K. Owens. Professor Slap had asked of T.K. as he had other students to describe what the Confederate flag meant to them. Swelling with pride and the knowledge that his grand pa had so honorably served with distinction in the ranks of the Confederate Army, T.K. would embark on relaying this fact to Mr..Slap and the members of his class, only to be told by Professor slap to take his seat, and that T.K.’s family history was totally wrong, for there was no such thing as a Black Confederate Soldier. Never mind that T.K.’s family had just recently been honored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans at a Memorial Service honoring his grand pa . He would indicate that the only reason for the Sons actions was to uplift there negative image in the community. To see the scowl on Doctor Baxter’s face spoke volumes of what he would now say to me. ” Mr.. Edgerton he began; on behalf of this University and this History Department that I Chair ; I am appalled by the actions of Professor Slap, and I offer our most heartfelt apology to Mr.. Owens , his family and to all the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy, be they Red, Black or White. He went on to say that this would never again happen while he held the Chair, and that the Provost , Doctor Bauch did not take it lightly, or would not, to have any of his students embarrassed in this manner. I thanked this good man that sat before me profusely, and left his office with a sense of tremendous relief.
Commander Maddox would come again around noon to fetch me, and once again find me surrounded by my babies as I held court outside the History Department speaking of the love that Southern White and Black folk have shared for each other that has carried them through some of the most turbulent times in our American History , as those who do not like , or understand us have done any and everything to keep us apart. May God bless Doctor Baxter, East Tennessee State University, Commander Jim Maddox and the Tennessee Sons of Confederate Veterans , and may Butler Owens, a Black Confederate Soldier now rest in peace.