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The Annual FreeHill Homecoming / Another Lost Opportunity

Free Hill(s) a historic Black community was established northeast
of Celina before the War Between the States by former slaves of
Virginia Hill. Hill brought her slaves from North Carolina to then
Overton County , Tennessee, purchased 2,000 hilly and rough acres,
settled and freed them. The freed Blacks took the surname Hill,
thus the name Free Hill(s). After 1865, other Clay County Blacks
also settled in the area.

On Saturday past , July 7, 2007 , on the grounds of the Historic
Rosenwald School , in the Free Hill community , many of the sons
of former slaves and sons of former slave owners would share an
early morning breakfast together in the schoolhouse that would mark
the beginning of the annual Free Hill Homecoming weekend celebrations.
Unbeknownst to those who now share this table of brotherhood in
the schoolhouse cafeteria, the table was getting ready to get much
bigger ; Terry Lee and I had arrived .

With the help of Marcus from Round To It Recordings , Terry Lee
and I set up house under the upper pavilion , place our limited
amount of dwindling educational wares on the table, which consisted
of the Historic March Across Dixie Documentary DVD , shirts from
Dixie Outfitters that bore the Honorable Nathan Bedford Forrest
and his Black Confederate Soldiers, the Chandler Boys, Confederate
Soldiers (one Black and one White )Holt Collier( Black Confederate
Soldier and famous trapper), Southern Heritage 411( 3 Black Confederate
soldiers raising the Third National Flag), the Historic Modern Day
Confederate Hero Shirt that bears my bust , the tourniquet( Mike
Scruggs edition of the Un-Civil War ) and of course my beautiful
Confederate Battle Flag . Class was now in session , and waiting
little time , Terry Lee with his African Drum had already began
the role of the Pied Piper as the children who joined in with him
led by little Jazzlin Hamilton began to fill up our space with their
joyous music. An elderly Black man would come and ask of me, if
I was the man who carried the Battle Flag across this land singing
praises of the honor won by the Africans who fought and supported
the Confederate cause. I nodded in the affirmative, and he asked
if I would honor him with a picture. I thought to myself as I had
done earlier; it was a fairly hot day, I had drawn as much conversation
with my table display and the flag as I had hoped for. I really
didn’t need to put on my uniform. However, there was something almost
surreal about this man before me , so I told him that I would first
put on my uniform. He was so delighted and almost unbelieving that
I would do this for him ; as it turned out it was the best thing
I had done all day. No sooner had I taken a picture with him, I
would find myself surrounded by all the ladies who had served as
the volunteer staff in the cafeteria taking pictures , and buying
up goods from my table. I now really began to feel like family,
and as thought that things couldn’t possibly get any better , standing
before me was what had to be a descendant of African Royalty ; it
was not just her sheer beauty , or her tall statuesque body, her
beaming smile and intelligent demeanor as she questioned right away
my apparent loyalty to the Confederate cause. Before I could answer
, she gave a stricture (hostile criticism) on the Emancipation Proclamation
, and told me that she was from Indiana , and had married a Haitian.
I called her a Yankee, and told her that Haiti was cursed because
of Toussant. However, the beauty before me whose name I could not
give justice trying to spell, mother would arrive , and confirm
my thoughts of her royalty. she would tell me that (Nita, I shall
call her for short) was a Southern born child and that she had herself
attended the Rosenwald School and had been born no more than a stones
throw from the very spot we stood on.

I knew now that Nita would not be another parthenogenesis ( development
of a new individual from an unfertilized egg) project, her mother
was a Southern woman, and no matter what she had learned with her
Northern education, Southern had rubbed off. I would later have
a somewhat volatile, but honorable encounter with an uncle of Nita’s
when I told her that he didn’t know what he was talking about .
Later on as I stood having conversation with State Representative
Les Winningham of Huntsville, Tennessee, Nita’s baby girl would
come to my table and in no uncertain terms tell me that she like
the shirt which bore General Forrest and all those Black Confederate
Soldiers. I did what I always do these days that will bring chastisement
from Dewey and Terry Lee , I gave her the shirt. Representative
Winningham and I would pose for more pictures as she ran off in
delight. Several moments later , she would return in obvious despair,
and exclaim to me that her grandmother had made her return the shirt.
I then gave her Mike Scruggs book ; she ran off again in delight.
I watched as she approach the crowd of folks gathered on the lower
pavilion , she walked up to an elderly lady who she proudly held
the book up to. I could hear her tell the baby girl to take it back
without even an inquiry of the contents. I watched as the child
made her way back to my table; in disappointment she handed me the
book back. Feeling so hurt for this child before me, I reached into
my pocket and gave her two dollars , sure that this probably would
not offend the grandmother of this baby. Just as before she would
return and hand me the money. I gave her a big hug , and tried to
help her understand what just happened. Moments later, Nita’s mother
would again join me, she inquired about the little girl and the
shirt. I told her of the grandmother, she replied to me that she
was the little girls grandmother, and she wanted the child to have
the shirt. I immediately gave it back to her. I watched as she strutted
right up to the lady who had denied the child the shirt and everyone
listened as she told the lady that she was not going to have any
hate on the grounds of Free Hill on this day, and that was what
she was bringing, and that I and my little brother had brought the
truth and love to Free Hill . Before I could thank her , I was surrounded
by more of my babies who wanted to purchase a shirt for the dance
later on that evening.

As Terry Lee and I packed to go , our only regret was that our limited
resources would not allow us to stay another day, but we had come
thanks to the efforts of Mr.. Ralph Richardson, President of the
Free Hills Community Board and Past State Commander of the Tennessee
Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and Board member of
the Friends to a place where the sons of former slaves and the sons
of former slave owners would gather for a homecoming event that
we shall all forever remember , where a man adorned in the uniform
of the Confederate Soldier , his Southern Cross flying in the breeze
of Free Hill , with his brother on the African drum danced in the
street with an African Queen and her granddaughter and waved goodbye
to their family.