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

From: H.K. Edgerton []
Sent: Sunday, November 19, 2006

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 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 laboured 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 Honourable General Robert E.Lee, General
Nathan Bedford Forest, General Patrick Ronayne Cleburne, and the Honourable 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 nobly 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 supposedly
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 disfavour 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 Outfitters
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 honour 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.


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