An Open Letter / The Anderson, South Carolina School District 4 School Ban on the Confederate Flag

On Friday May 2, 2008 as I stood alongside members of my Southern family on the Capitol steps in the home state of my dear mother in Columbia, South Carolina reading the names from the muster roll of those brave men who had given their service for their homeland in the War for Southern Independence; I knew that my mom was looking down from Heaven with great pride. On Saturday May 3, 2008, she would have more reason for celestial exhilaration. I would be given the great honor of delivering the keynote speech for Confederate Memorial Day in her home state exactly four years from the day she was buried with full Confederate honors. I remember the words of the Honorable Kirk D. Lyons as he eulogized this great Southern lady who hailed from Anderson, South Carolina: “It is an honor I do not deserve to be allowed to say a few words regarding Mrs. Anna Bell Edgerton. I have met Mrs. Edgerton on only a few occasions, talked with her on the phone numerous times. But have come to appreciate the incredible family that her and her husband raised to adulthood. Gathered here today at the table of Brotherhood are the descendants of slaves and the descendants of slave owners. Mrs. Edgerton’s Black family is here, Mrs. Edgerton’s White family is here, Mrs. Edgerton’s family is here .We are here, together, as brothers and sisters to mourn the passing of a great lady. But we, the descendants of slaves and the descendant of slave owners have been working together for years- in large part due to the Christian witness of Mrs. Edgerton.

Mrs. Edgerton’s witness was a Christian witness. A witness of love and toleration, of pride in family, and of pride in the South, love of the Christian Cross of ST. Andrew that she instilled in her children at an early age. And the fruit of that work we see here today and will continue to see as her children and grandchildren publicly exhibit a love and understanding of Southern symbols and the South that will truly bring closure to the vexing race problems of this country. A problem, the blame for which has been exclusively blamed on the South for generations. Mrs. Edgerton did not lay the blame there. She laid it where it belonged, on the sinful hearts of men, Black and White, North and South- and the solution was love, tolerance, understanding, acceptance and especially the saving grace of Jesus Christ- her Lord and master. Mrs. Edgerton was a rare woman, a gentle Southern Flower, we will not see her like again in this life time”.

On this morning Tuesday May, 13, 2008 I would read an accounting from the Anderson Independent- Mail by the only person to speak at a school board meeting that was to discuss the display of Confederate flag insignias on school dress ; a Ms. Gloria Plotnik of the Anderson County NAACP. It matters not that she is not the President of the organization who is by the bylaws of the organization to be the spokesman ; she said the flag “is objectionable and derisive to people”. She failed to mention that this glorious banner is also an inspiration of valor from the past to a great deal of people. She also failed to mention that it is enshrined in the hearts of millions, living and dead, and had she been around my dear mother’s house; she would have loved to hear her playing Dixie as her babies sang while she played it on her piano and organ. I would suggest to Ms. Plotnik to read the comments from the published copy of those Black men who received a Confederate pension from South Carolina (1923- !925) and see how they felt about not only the Southern Cross, but the love and loyalty they portrayed to their Southern family. I would caution this lady that the very freedoms that she and the NAACP claim to fight for are the very one’s they are helping to rid this great nation of. She would do herself proud if she would follow the lead of a great lady from Anderson, South Carolina, my dear mother that my brother Kirk D. Lyons so admirably eulogized.

Even Dr. Martin Luther King who had been prodded by the likes of Jesse Jackson to attack the Southern Cross never did, because he knew that as Southerners it was as much any Black man in the South as it was a White mans. He knew that Black folks had earned a place of honor and dignity under that great banner. He also knew how the Southern black man had been forced and used against the Southern White man during the so called period of Reconstruction. He also knew that the Black man had enough credit earned that the scales of love from the Southern White man should be tipped in the Southern Black man’s direction. Ms.Plotnik should be asking the school board to teach the truth to this nation about the role of Black folks in the South and the love that existed between a man that he not only called master, but also Family and Friend.

H.K. Edgerton