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An Open Letter To Loyal Southern Blacks , To Be or Not To Be

Today, Sunday morning, November 19, 2006, I would attend the morning
worship at Friendship Presbyterian Church in Black Mountain, North
Carolina. It was as if the Pastor had been sent a message to present
to me. I had began doodling a message earlier this morning about
about the loyalty that Southern Blacks ought to have for our homeland,
and how folks had come again to ask of us to betray her. Ironically
the Pastor’s message this morning was about the betrayal of Jesus
Christ by Judas; a man who had walked and labored with him, a man
he had called friend, and almost a kinsman. Have you stooped so
low that you would betray me, Jesus asked of Judas ? My thoughts
were immediately of the Honorable General Robert E.Lee, General
Nathan Bedford Forest, General Patrick Ronayne Cleburne, and the
Honorable General Stonewall Jackson, who could have been considered
by some of their time to be Nigger Lovers; had it not been for their
great stature.

These four men considered some of the greatest
fighting men and human beings, loyally stood by the African people,
and fought hard for their comforts. Yet here in the 21st century,
the descendants of those very same Africans are being asked to
turn their backs on them, and accept as truths the much maligned
history of a nation of people whose independence they fought so
nobely far. Before we become traitors of our Southland, both past
and present; their are things that we should contemplate about
these men ; for if we do, we will learn much about the Southern
people that we came to call family in lieu of the economic institution
of slavery.

General Robert E. Lee , a picture of a man of remarkable character
set free every slave inherited from his wife’s father, George
Washington Parke Cutis according to his will. Only three would
leave the estate before it was settled. Their love for the General
kept them there. General Lee expressed that he did not think the
Negroes ready for complete freedom. He said the painful discipline
they are undergoing is necessary for their further instruction
as a race , and I hope will prepare them for better things…
Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild and melting
influences of Christianity, than from the storms and tempests
of controversy. Mack Lee, his body servant and cook, would educate
himself from the funds given him by the General. He went on to
become a Minister, and started churches all over the South and
North. Mack later started the first Credit Union in America; helping
those slaves who found themselves susposedly freed after the War.
Rev.Lee left one important message to the African people. Educate
yourselves, buy some property, keep your faith in God and trust
only the White man of the South. He spoke from experience, for
he had been by the Generals side and knew just what was in the
hearts of the men that visited and fought for the General.

General Nathan Bedford Forrest, a man who dealt in the slave
trade overcame every attempt to discredit himself, and the disfavor
looked upon himself by Southern people because of the trafficking
of slaves, simply because he carried on his business with admitted
probity and humanity. It is notable that he never sold separately
the members of a family; and made it a rule, as far as practicable,
after acquiring the heads of a family, to purchase the others,
howsoever widely scattered. Habitually kind as a Master, his slaves
were strongly attached to him. When he rode off to war, forty
two of these Africans men were by his side, and he said of them
that no better soldier had done so. In Memphis he rose above any
prejudices against his calling, and this is fully attested by
his influence in the Black community, where he was looked upon
as the first Civil Rights Leader for the African people.

General Patrick Ronayne Cleburne told his peers on many occasions
that they should not let the Yankees come us and steal the African,
for he is our family and we know him. General Cleburne was the
first to suggest (in a circular letter)the arming of slaves and
their muster into the military service.

In the 19th century, before the War, Virginia law prohibited
white from teaching black’s to read or write. General Stonewall
Jackson, an upstanding and law abiding citizen in Lexington, routinely
broke this law every Sunday. He organized a Sunday school class
every Sunday afternoon, teaching black children to read, and teaching
them the way to salvation. There are still churches active today
that were founded by Blacks reached with the Gospel through Jackson’s
efforts. For my little brother and I to be invited by the Beeton’s
of the Dixie OutFitter Store in Madison Heights, Virginia to participate
in their and the Historical Society of Amherst County efforts
to restore the Packet Boat Marshall that took his remains home,
was an honor of huge proportions, and we shall forever be indebted
to them. In Jackson’s mind, slaves were children of God placed
in subordinate situations for reasons only the Creator could explain.
Helping them was a missionary effort for Jackson. Their souls
had to be saved. Although Jackson could not alter the social status
of slaves, he could display Christian decency to those whose lot
it was to be in bondage. He was emphatically the black man’s friend,
and we should all contemplate that in lieu of the economic institution
of slavery in which the entire world participated in; here in
the Southland of America, " we became family and friends,
and should never betray that trust.