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Former NAACP President Corrects Myths
BY KATHY ROPP
The immediate past president of the Asheville, N.C., NAACP brought his message of racial reconciliation to Conway’s Confederate Memorial Day celebration Saturday.
H.K. Edgerton, descendant of a former slave, led the group in singing Dixie and waved the Confederate flag as he dramatically recited the poem, “I Am Their Flag,” written by Dr. Michael Bradley.
In 2002, Edgerton walked from Asheville to Austin, Texas, at a pace of 20 miles per day, six days a week, carrying the Confederate flag through cities and along small rural roads trying to correct the many myths about the South that he says people now believe.
Among Edgerton’s truths are:
- Before the War Between the States, blacks and whites didn’t hate each other. They behaved as friends and family.
- Many blacks served in the Confederate Army, and others stayed on the plantations to protect the land and its families while the men folk were away fighting.
- Many blacks owned slaves. In fact, he says, one of the largest slave owners in South Carolina was a black man who owned a plantation in the Columbia area. Also, he says, the third largest slave owner in the entire South was a black man.
- African chieftains were willing participants in selling their people into slavery.
- Abraham Lincoln did not free the slaves. His Emancipation Proclamation applied only to territories that he had no control over.
- President Ulysses Grant had slaves in the White House.
Edgerton’s website, www.southernheritage411.com, offers a wealth of information about the South and slavery. The Southern Heritage Foundation says it works to expose the myths of Yankee history and wants to keep limited democratic and representative government as espoused by American’s founding fathers.
Celebrants at Saturday’s event swooped down on t-shirts and written information that Edgerton was selling. He says most of the money he collects goes to the foundation and the Southern Legal Rights Fund, which represents people who are working to protect the values of the Old South.
Edgerton told of an Ohio professor at the University of East Tennessee, who chided a student for speaking about his ancestor who was a black soldier in the Confederacy. Edgerton says the professor told the student to sit down, that there was no such thing. Edgerton said he put on his Confederate uniform and walked for three days after that incident.
Eventually, he says, the provost at the University apologized to the student, but the professor took out warrants against the “walkers” saying they were carrying weapons and the student was lying.
The Civil Rights activist says people tell him he’s too political in his speeches. How, he asked, can he not be political when as a presidential candidate, John McCain said he was ashamed of his Confederate ancestors and Hillary Clinton said the Confederate flag is too southern?
“We’re family,” he said of Southern blacks and whites, “and that flag is mine, too.”
Edgerton says he called for Barack Obama to have a Confederate honor guard at his inauguration and carried his Confederate flag to Washington, D.C., when he refused.
He says outsiders have been trying to break the spirit of Southerners since the end of the war.
“These folks been working overtime to divide us around here…The victor gets to write history, and he wrote it,” Edgerton says.
Edgerton’s mom was born in Anderson. He taught electronics in the U.S. Army and once co-owned an office products company with his brother in California. He co-founded the Black Student Center at the University of Minnesota.
Still, he calls himself, “just an old country boy from the Southland of America.”
The Confederate Memorial Day Service was hosted by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Litchfield Camp 132 at the old Horry County Courthouse, complete with mourners in black, soldiers in gray and musket and cannon fire.
Edgerton was passing out lots of hugs at Saturday’s event, and, at one point, called up all the children in attendance, black and white.
“This is the future,” he said.
Source: Horry Independent – Conway, South Carolina. April 16, 2009 issue.