A talk with H.K., or what the historical revisionists don’t want you to know

Tuesday, October 09, 2007
By Kenneth Bachand
Hendersonville, North Carolina
Kbachand@juno.com

As I am writing this for readers other than those who know H.K., I must preface my short story with a note about who he is and what he does. 

H.K. Edgerton is the former president of the Asheville, North Carolina, chapter of the NAACP. (I say “former,” for it is clearly evident that that organization does not share his sentiments about his Southern heritage.) Today, hardly a week passes that H.K. does not don the uniform of a Confederate soldier, take up a Confederate flag, and stand on a street corner to greet people and tell his story of the black man in the Old South and of those of his race who took up arms for the South during their struggle for independence. 

Several years ago, H.K. put on that uniform, took up that flag, and walked over 1,600 miles from Asheville to Austin, Texas, sharing his message of “heritage, not hate” with thousands. He has since made other long marches about the country. And what may seem incongruous to those who know only the “prescribed” history of the South, he experiences far more acceptance and good will than rejection and scorn from black people whom he meets along the way. Early last month H.K. marched in the ranks with the members of the Capt. Walter M. Bryson-George Mills Camp 70 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in the Hendersonville, NC, Apple Festival parade. (George Mills was a black Confederate soldier. His grave, over which flies a Confederate flag, is in Oakdale Cemetery and within walking distance of my house.) 

I had the honor of being the senior of six Confederate officers (re-enactors, of course) who served as pallbearers for H.K.’s mother’s funeral and burial service. Hundreds stood on porches and lined the sidewalks, clapping and offering expressions of sympathy and good will as her caisson—drawn by four white horses and escorted by a Confederate honor guard and ladies in period dress—made its way through the black community. And as is typical of the politically correct media, the local television station chose to interview two young black men who offered negative comments about the event. 

At last month’s Blue-Gray Heritage Weekend, the living-history and Civil War re-enactment event in Mills River which is sponsored each year by the Bryson-Mills SCV camp, I took advantage of a few quiet minutes alone with H.K. and asked him to tell me about his slave ancestors. He said that they had belonged to white masters in North Carolina and to Cherokee masters in South Carolina. I then asked, “Can you tell me how your ancestors were treated by their masters?” His answer was shorter than the question: “Like family.” 

But when I asked H.K. whether he knew anything about his ancestors when they lived in Africa, he told a story of horror. His ancestor on his mother’s side (a girl whose name he gave but which I cannot remember) was enslaved by an African chieftan and marched across Africa, along with her brother and sister, to be sold to Yankee slave traders. When the sister became ill and unable to continue the march, she was tied to a tree and left to die. When the brother resisted, the chieftan “cut off his arms, split open his skull, and drank his blood.” (H.K.’s words, not mine.) 

There is an organized effort today to erase everything “Confederate” from our history except that which focuses on the “evils of slavery” (in the South, of course); to disallow the playing of “Dixie” at public events; and to remove all Confederate flags, monuments, statues, plaques, and names of Confederate leaders from public view. And when a black man like H.K. Edgerton, or Nelson Winbush of KISSIMMEE, Florida (a former public school assistant principal), or Dr. Emerson Emery of Dallas, Texas, dares to speak well of the Old South and the struggle for Southern independence, he—along with “Dixie,” the flags, the monuments, the statues, the plaques, and the names of Confederate leaders—becomes for the historical revisionists just another object for removal and banishment. 

What a refreshing and positive difference it would make if everyone in our country would eschew the negative message of the historical-revisionist hate mongers and espouse the positive one of those like H.K. Edgerton.