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An Open Letter / An End Of An Era / The Accounting

Open April 14, 2007, I shall deliver my final public speech to the
Sons of Confederate Veterans in Cleveland, Georgia. However, I shall
today deliver an accounting that so many of my detractors believe
that they are due, and one in which I had planned on putting in
a book with far less detail, that I no longer have the stomach for.

On a cold and rainy winter morning more than a decade ago in downtown
Asheville, North Carolina, the Honorable Roger McCredie, the then
National Commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and now Director
of the Southern Legal Resource Center would present to me , the
first Confederate Flag that I would take into battle (the Third
National) ; along with admonishing to me that I never bring dishonor
to it. From that point on I would drive the three miles from my
home, park in the all day parking garage, and then promptly head
to the office of the NAACP where I would began a three month long
vigil in the rain, snow , sleet, and occasion sunshine, before one
day I would be joined by the Honorable Doctor Neil Payne and Chief
Trial Counselor of the SLRC, Kirk D.Lyons; never once receiving
one dime for the parking fee, or a paltry meal during the eight
hours I would spend standing there six days a week. On the seventh
day I would drive another 5 miles from my home and from 7:am until
2:30 PM, adorned in the uniform of the Southern soldier I would
stand over the bridge of Interstate 40, waving and confabulating
with the many people on the highway, and others on their way to
and from the several churches along the way. On one such morning,
a gentleman in a red SUV would reach out from his window and present
me with a $5 dollar bill , and would do so for more than a year.
Later on two brothers would park their truck,cross the bridge, bring
me a cup of much needed chocolate and $2.00 on these same Sunday
mornings. I could now depend on at least $7.00 worth of gas for
my Bronco on these Sunday mornings. On one of these occasions I
would be offered an outrageous sum of $10,000.00 for my Third National
and uniform from two Yankee business men, who had $3,000 in cash
to show as good faith money. I would decline the offer.

While visiting the office of the SLRC, I would receive a telephone
call from a student who was attending the prestigious and Private
Asheville School. He would tell me that the Head Master had made
him remove the Confederate Battle Flag from his school dorm, and
wondered if there was anything that I could do to help him. I would
once again adorn the uniform of the Southern soldier, pick up his
glorious flag, drive the eight miles from my home, and every morning,
five days a week, for 6 months sharply at 6:30 am until 3:00 pm,
I would began standing and marching up and down one of the entrances
of the school , and up the quarter of a mile to the other entrance.
On one such afternoon, I would be joined by the then Commander of
my home Camp of the SCV( Zebulon Vance #15), the Honorable Jim Holbrook,
the Honorable Roger McCredie, and my dear friend Ms.Melissa Capps
along with her very young children, one a new born in a stroller.
Ms Capps would present me with a $100 bill, the largest donation
I had ever received for doing something that I loved, and believe
me with the state of repairs the Bronco needed and the price of
gas going higher, it came right on time.Then one Friday morning,
an elderly couple would drive up hand me a McDonalds bag that contained
a cup of coffee, a sandwich an a $20 bill; they would repeat this
scene every Friday morning.

I would later learn that the Cracker Barrel Restaurant Chain had
removed all paraphernalia that bore the Southern Cross; and I would
split the time with the school by marching the some 5 miles further
down the road from the school, hold a vigil there, and march back
before school let out. One day while standing at the school entrance,
I would be told of a family cemetery that contained a slave section;
Mr.. Don Taylor would show me the slave section of this cemetery
which was in chaos. He would give me permission to clean it, and
after the vigils I would spend hours until night fall working right
there on the grounds of the school. Commander Holbrook would one
day bring his brother and a group of men from the Zeb Vance Camp,
and remove some very large trees and brush with equipment that I
did not have. Finally one afternoon during Baccalaureate Services,
as the school year was about to end, as I worked in the cemetery
with a large Battle Flag flying overhead under the auspices of a
very large helium balloon , joined by a Black school teacher and
several other teachers and children from their classes at the Sand
Hill Venable School for Special Children who had come to volunteer
to help me in my task to clean the cemetery ; I would learn that
the Head Master had reversed his stand, and that my babies could
once again hang their flag in the dorm room.

I would began speaking alongside Dr. Payne and Kirk D. at functions
they began taking me to ; soon I would be asked to speak autonomously
where I would be offered an honorarium. I would present that honorarium
in its entirety for over two years to the SLRC as I watched them
grovel for much needed funds to defend the many, many, never ending
trail of clients to this very day who come to their doors seeking
help with no money to mount that defense. Finally one evening at
midnight as we returned from one such affair , Dr.Payne and Kirk
D insisted that I share equally in the funds that had been provided
from the passing of the hat that is commonly done at SCV Camp meetings
for guest speakers to help cover the cost of their expense to attend
. My Bronco finally died one afternoon as I headed home from Greenville,
South Carolina having spent one of the many Fridays alongside my
compatriots outside the school of St.Joseph High School and the
offices of the Speaker of the House in support of my friend and
fellow compatriot Dr. Winston McQuen who had been fired for having
a Confederate Battle Flag in his classroom for teaching purposes.
The grand sum total for my pay from this venture came from the general
fund of the SLRC in the form of $50 for gas fare, and lunch for
the 200 mile round trip affair. Kirk D. would send out a call for
help to repair the transmission in the Bronco, and my Southern family
would respond in kind. I would be asked later to attend and speak
at a rally in support for Dr. McQuen on a snowy afternoon in the
mountains. Thousands of dollars would be collected there from the
people in attendance , and not one would be offered to my brother
and I who had braved a winter storm, for a gallon of gas,or a meal
at McDonalds.

In between the days of spending months up and down the highways
and by ways carrying the flag, either by myself , or with Kirk D.,
and Dr.Payne, would come Hickory, North Carolina where the Sons
of Confederate Veterans name had been removed from the Towns welcoming
board. I would once again adorn the uniform of the Southern soldier,
pick up the Southern Cross, and drive the some 110 ten miles across
the mountains, where I would began a vigil in front of the City
Council Chambers from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm five days a week for
over 2 months. My rate of pay $50 for gas and food for the 220 mile
trip affair . Shortly thereafter would come the Alcoa Plant in far
away Cabarrus County, just outside Charlotte, N.C., where with my
dear friend Ms. Vicky Posten, another battle would began, and I
would drive once a week the some 510 mile round trip to help my
friends and family. My rate of pay, $100.00 from the general fund
of the SLRC for gas, and food for the day spent there. Then came
Texas, the removal of the Confederate from the school house at Hayes
County High School, and the removal of the plaques from the Supreme
Court Building.The Sons of Confederate Veterans must have appreciated
their investment in my airplane ticket, and the days I spent alongside
them holding a vigil on the grounds of the Capitol and for good
measure outside Hayes County in the Texas sun by myself there. They
would later invite me back to give the keynote speech at their State
Convention, where I would be made an Honorary Life Member of the
Texas Division of the Sons, and be given $500 as an honorarium to
speak; whoopee ! God bless them; I finally had some money of my
own to fight with, and while staying at the beautiful home of Colonel
Lyons all the time; what a treat !

I could go on like this for a very long time. However, I shall fast
forward to the grand Historical Marches just in hope that by now
one can start to get the picture. I will never forget the disappointment
that Terry Lee and I shared the night before we were to come home
after marching over 1,600 miles, some 20 miles a day, six days a
week, that a grand sum of $500 had been collected for that return
trip, and learning that the real sum collected was $90. We left
Texas somewhat dejected in the middle of the night.

However, on the brighter side, thanks to the generosity of the Sons
and Daughters of the Confederacy, the Orders of the Confederate
Rose, Dr. Hill and the League of the South, the Southern Party,
and the many people from both the North and Southlands of America
we were able sleep and eat in the style of royalty all the way to
the Capitol in Austin. Then would come the March from Littleton,
N.C. to the Capitol in Virginia alongside my brother and Compatriot
Fred Taylor, confabulating with the populous all along the way in
support of our Southern Heritage , my rate of pay, spending the
time with Fred in a beautiful lakeside cabin until we would spend
the time at the beautiful home of his mom and dad sharing the best
meals that North Carolina, and Virginia could offer. Then came the
March to the Hunley from Old Fort North Carolina into Charleston,
where once again like all the other Marches I would solicit an unprecedented
amount of free press for the Southern cause . My rate of pay, a
place for lodging for the nights that I spent in motels along the
way, and a good meal paid for by either the Sons,or Daughters, the
League of the South, my brother Terry Lee, and a handful of my Southern
family. Then there was the short strut in Senator Strom Thurmond’s
funeral procession. My rate of pay; Terry Lee, my brother paid for
the nights lodging and the gas mileage to and from Columbia and
on into Edgeville, South Carolina where I was the only person to
adorn the uniform of the Confederate Soldier and bearing the Confederate
Battle Flag in the procession, and on into the cemetery at Edgeville,
the Senators final resting place. The Black History March in Virginia,
a very short strut. My rate of pay $300 from the Virginia Division
of the Sons for gas, food, and lodging for the some 1,200 miles
of round trip travel. Then there was the March Across Virginia,
where on the anniversary date of the Historic March Across Dixie,
I would run out of funds, go into winters quarters hoping that I
could raise enough money for supplies, travel, and lodging to finish
the final 100 miles into the Capitol by early spring. However, I
now find that unlikely,and am faced with the proposition of my first
failed March.

David Morgan of the Asheville,/Hendersonville Tribune and my dear
friend Mike Scruggs would began writing articles on the great war
to help in the education process that I was trying to provide to
the people with all the marching, and vigils. I would began storing
the weekly articles,and began passing them out to the various events
I would attend. Pretty soon my van, and home began to resemble a
paper factory, I had to rent a storage bin to house the articles
that I could not deliver fast enough. I would ask people for a donation
for the papers, most of the time receiving none, but understanding
there was a message here that needed to be delivered, I would pass
them out anyway. Dewey Barber, the CEO and Owner of Dixie OutFitters
had already honored me by including in their clothing line the historic
HK Edgerton Shirt, where I would become the first living person
in the Modern Confederate Hero Line. It was one of the greatest
honors ever bestowed upon me. He went even further by providing
me with shirts to help with the tremendous financial burden that
I had began to incur, especially after the SLRC could no longer
afford to help pay the expenses of my many travels to do battle
in the streets. As good as this may sound, I soon found myself giving
away far more shirts than I was able to accept donations for. How
could I let any child at a living History event go without one,
who had no money to pay for one or any other person for that matter;
after all it was some kind of PR to see the flag of the South on
a shirt that bore an image of a Black man. Then the Tribune decided
to condense all those articles into a book which I was to sell and
use some of the proceeds to help cover the cost of the mounting
expense I was getting trying to educate and promote Southern History
from the perspective of Southerners. This turned out to be a worse
disaster than my shirts because even more opportunities would present
themselves that called for me in the name of PR, and educating some
entity would occur. I couldn’t ask some Mayor, news person, educator
, politician, or just plain citizen every time out to pay for the
book. The time dictated that I present them with a shirt, or book,
or even one of the many documentary tapes of Terry Lee’s with a
copy. Yet when I go to my southern family to help in this worthwhile
endeavor of educating and promoting the South, I am called a money
grubber. Most of the time just like the recent events in Florida,
I am lucky to escape breaking even from all that I give away, and
the other related expenses of the journey.

In conclusion, after 14, 2007, I shall resign my position at the
newly formed Southern Heritage 411, give my final speech, place
applications with McDonalds, Wendy’s or even Wal-Mart, and if I
am lucky to get hired; I shall enjoy more security in benefits and
salary than I have enjoyed at any time during my tenure at the NAACP,
the SLRC, or Southern Heritage 411. I will furl my flag at that
time and bid you all a very grateful adieu for the opportunity afforded
in my fight for the down trodden in the Southland of America.