An Open Report, Part 2 / T.K. Owens, East Tennessee State University
While serving as the Program, Planning and Implementation Committee Chairman for the Buncombe County Drug Commission, I had the privilege of meeting and becoming friends with another giant of a man who sat on the Board of Directors for the organization; ” the Honorable Otis Vaughn”, who was also the Chief Executive Officer of APAC Carolina, a major company on the Fortune 500 list that builds and designs highway, roads and bridges. It was at the urging of Mr. Vaughn that I would come to represent a number of women and ethic minorities including my, cousin, Robert Edgerton of Robert Edgerton Construction Company, who did business with the North Carolina Department of Transportation. It was during this time that I acquired a great deal of knowledge about the design of roads, public easements, and thruways.
I have on many occasions had to put this acquired knowledge of road design to use while advancing the cause of my Southern family as I have been asked to leave many a location by someone desiring to stop my 1st amendment right of free speech, or alter the course or affect it was creating. I mention all the above because I had become vexed about the behavior and desire of the campus security and some members of the University staff to have me acquire permission from Student Affairs to hold a vigil with my flag in support of the Honorable T.K. Owens, a graduate from the University, and a former Congressional Candidate, and then regulate me to the so called Free Speech Zone , which was clearly located far enough from the view of the general public as not to cause much attention to my presence.
When I arrived on Friday, March 6, 2009 to the campus of E.T.S.U., I would position myself on the sidewalk of Walnut Street directly behind the brick wall that reads East Tennessee State University. The peculiarity of Walnut Street is that it’s design carries it behind the entrance of the University, but it remains a public thruway of the city.
I had not been long at the location before I began to attract far more attention and conversation from the students and public than I had the day before as I stood in front of Stout Hall with the Southern Cross in hand. It was not long before a campus police vehicle would approach me, and the same Sgt. who I had come in contact with the previous day would beckon me to his car window. He wanted to know about the permit to be there. I informed him that I did not believe where I stood was University property. He informed me that it was at the edge of the city and that his Department generally aided the city in enforcement in the area. However, he indicated he would check. Armed as I said with the aforementioned knowledge, and the long arm of the Southern Legal Resource Centers aid; this was another battle that I was prepared and ready for.The Sgt. would not return.
I would hold many conversations on that corner, but none more interesting than the one that I held with the young man ( Philip ) who spent nearly two hours with me as I answered his flurry of questions. ( why a Black man would be standing there with a Confederate Flag,why did I believe that not only called so reconstruction, but also when so many of those black men who had been forced in the Union army returned to the South to the only home they had known wearing the only clothes they had, the Union Blue, would cause as much rancor and discontent for themselves and their families as the Carpetbaggers did with their stealing and denial of suffrage to the former Confederate soldier , what would have happened on that corner if a White man like himself would be doing as I was…..? )
Philip would get a big surprise when a young black student and his white female friend would come to where I stood and the young man began immediately confirming most of
what I had said to him. Sir he began,” I am from New York City and I know that there was an honorable contingent of Black Confederate soldiers here in the South”, but with all the controversy about them, I had to come and hear your story. I know that there is a reason for you being here. I also know that we would not have fought for the South if it meant that it would have kept us in slavery. I must say I was somewhat surprised that a man from the North would align himself as we, garnishing alignment and kinship with Southern Blacks.
Out the many people, White and Black that I had spoke to about T.K. and what had happened to him , none were happy with the handling and unfair treatment that he had received. Not one felt that he should have been banned from the University.Of the many that I spoke to,they all acknowledged the fact that there were Black Confederate soldiers , and there were substantial accounting’s from Union soldiers that many were as well armed as their White Confederate counterpart. Ironically for me on the Thursday evening that I spent at E.T.S.U .,as I watched a basketball game between Tennessee and the University of South Carolina, the ESPN sportscaster would analyze the strategy of Coach Pearl to the strategy of the Honorable General Nathan Bedford Forrest,” be there first with the most”. General Forrest just happened to have more that than forty Black Confederate soldiers to serve with him, one of which Napoleon Nelson, the Grandfather of Nelson Windbush, a dear friend of mine and a former High School Principal from the great state of Florida,and a Life Member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Napoleon who was once captured by the Union and imprisoned , was exchange for seven horses . Ironically, it was General Forrest who made the statement the Black Confederate soldiers stayed with me and no better Confederates than they ever lived.
It appears to me that the denial by the campus security in having any knowledge of T.K.’s arrest and banishment from the University has become as hollow as the apology given by the History Chair, and I would caution any young Southern Black attending the University of East Tennessee that wants to lay claim to the honor gained by their ancestors service in the in the Confederate Army ; speak not of it in the History Department , especially to a one Professor Andrew Slap, or you will find yourself with a bulls eye on your chest and an unpleasant stay for the duration of your time.
God willing, I shall return to E.T.S.U. after Spring break.