Columbia, South Carolina – January 25, 2008 / An Open Report
Friday morning, January 25, 2008, at approximately 8:30 AM, adorned in the uniform of the Southern soldier, while brandishing his glorious flag, I would station myself at the Confederate soldiers monument on the grounds of the State Capitol facing the Gervais street traffic in Columbia, South Carolina ;it was the day before the State would hold it’s Democract Primary and give a resounding victory to Barack Obama. This was not my first time in Columbia with my flag. I had stood on the Capitol steps on January 7, 2000 reading the names from the Confederate War Role of those brave and honorable men, both Black and White who had serve the State in the War for Southern Independence;alongside my baby brother who would toll the bell after the reading of a soldiers name, I had stood alongside the then oldest living Confederate widow(MS.Alberta Martin), while the late Dr.Emory, an African American Sons of Confederate Veteran gave a resounding speech in support of the Battle flag that then flew over the Capitol building and it remaining there,I had been in Columbia the day the flag was placed on the monument where I now stood, I had marched from Asheville, North Carolina right past here on my way to serve as a color bearer in the Hunley funeral procession in Charleston, South Carolina, where a Mayor named Reily had come to these grounds to taint the Southern Cross fame,and lastly I had left these hallow grounds and alongside my baby brother, carrying the Christian Cross of St.Andrew joined in the funeral procession that carried the caison of one of the States favorite sons, and a Son of a Confederate Veteran;the late Senator Strom Thurmond; as folks gathered along the way shouted out my and my little brothers name gleefully. However, on this day, I would be cursed, threatened with all sorts of subjugation, and in no uncertain term I can tell Jessee and Al that the second ressurection has occurred; Nigger has come back; I know this because I would here it called out many times before this day would end.
A very nice member of the Capitol police would come out and greet me first;he told me that he would keep an eye out for me, and if I needed any help just give a shout.While there was news media all around the Capitol on this day, they avoided me like I had the plague, but not those who were now passing by.Just as a television camera who was stationed under a tent across the street made the decision that just maybe he should come to where I stood at the monument, because of all of the horn blowing and outright commotion that was taking place because of my presence;a young Black woman began yelling expletives from her car as she held up traffic to let me know what a stupid old foolish Nigger that I was standing there holding a flag that the White folks in South Carolina just voted against in the Republican Primary when they voted for John McCain, a White man who had made it known that he hated that thing I was waving in her face.No sooner than she would pull off than a mini van full of Black folks would stop in the middle of traffic, unload and began questioning and taking pictures with and of me.The Capitol police would come again, this time to ask of these people who now had traffic backed up for blocks to move on, and serve me with a warning if I caused traffic to tie up again,they would have to ask me to move on.No sooner had they left, than what looked like a city truck of sorts stopped right there in traffic and a very big and muscular Black man headed my way; fire coming from his eyes and smoke from his hears,he would discharge a rhetoric that would leave my character in a state that can only be described as pulverulent. I know that the young white man that sat on the passenger side of the vehicle that he had existed, must have feared for my safety. As the gentleman started to walk away from me, I asked him did I not have something to say, especially after his tirade that his mama would have in all likelihood been ashamed of him giving to a man that wore the same uniform that his grandpa wore, unless of course he was a Yankee, he turned and glared at me, then drove away as my backbone stiffened and my flag flew briskly in the wind that my God had sent on this beautiful chilled morning.
Moments later two White gentleman would come and ask if they could take pictures of and with me, as usual I agreeded.One of their friends who would join us moments later after hearing that I needed change for parking, would refuse my money,walk several blocks to where I was parked and fill my parking meter.As they were leaving, another Capitol policeman would come and greet me, as he extended his hand to me the folks that were leaving seemed amazed that I would receive this kind of ovation from the officer.Just as the officer had disappeared back onto the Capitol grounds, I could see another young neatly dressed Black man approaching me.He went immediately into a tirade about what a stupid, ignorant, darkie that I was standing there making a fool out of myself for the whole world to see.He told me that I was hollow and that nothing that I had to say to him made any sense. He told me that if I could get just one Black person to sat anything positive to me that he would go away, but until then he was going to stay right there and give a load of his First Amendment Rights.He recurited another young Black man who was passing on the sidewalk to join with him in his negative assement of why I was standing there with the Southern Cross;don’t old school know that the White folks down here voted for the Flag Hater John McCain, he asked. I told you he was stupid came the reply.Moments later as the young man still stood hurling his expletives in my direction, a young White man came from the otherside of the monument, his arms wide open to embrace me, Hk he asked, don’t you remember me, we walked together in the funeral procession in Mobile, Alabama this summer for the unknown sailor; I’m also a member of the Wade Hampton Camp here in Columbia.This show of affection didn’t impress the young Black man who now watched this show of affection between two Southern friends.Look at you White man, he said, standing there hugging that stupid old Black man. No, the young White man would say;this is the great HK,Edgerton, don’t you know who he is.I don’t care the young man would exclaim;I don’t like White people either, because y’all don’t like Black people here in South Carolina.Just look what you let happen to us,;you don’t come into our communities, and you don’t know and don’t care about all the bad things that are happening, you or your Uncle Tom,or those people up there he said pointing towards the State House.Again the Capitol police would show because the young man’s cursing of us had become very loud ans the crowd had began to grow again around me.They would admonish the young man for his language and warn him that if he continued that he and I would have to move on. I would once again be pulled to the side by another Capitol policeman and warned that if I could not control the crowd that gathered before me, I would be asked to move on.He kept pointing at the State House, until I finally told him to put the Christian Croos on his shoulders and go up to the Senate and ask all the Yankees to raise their hands or to move to one side, and then go stand befor all the Southern Senators and tell them about how your grandpa had stood right loyally beside theirs in the War for Southern Independence, and you needed them to stand beside you and your community because you knew that the Yankees were still holding Black Doutherners accountable for that loyalty and were never going to help your community, no matter how many came down here and talked against our flag and the honorable folks who served under it, to include the civilian population who supported it.He would turn from me and hold conversation with the young man from the Wade Hampton camp as I fielded questions from a young White girl who had been patiently listening to our conversation.
The young lady wanted to know why I had come to Columbia on this day and week of the Democratic Primary. I told her that if I had not been in Martin, Tennesse giving the keynote speech for the Lee/Jackson celebrations, I would have been there when the Republicans were in town. I told her that her we have men and a woman running for the highest office in the land, and some would feel far too comfortable telling the world the dislike they have for the Southern Cross, and that I felt it my duty to come and stand and let the whole world know that it was unacceptable and that there were men and women who looked like me who felt a great deal of pride in the legacy of those of our ancestors who earned a place of honor and dignity under the flag, and furthermore were not happy with another person entering the White House who would continue the Reconstruction rhetoric and modus operandi brought to the South with the establishment of the Public school system in 1865. To my amazement, as I heard my name called out from the young man from the Hampton Camp; the young Black man and he would embrace, shake hands , and he would proclaim to me; HK, you keep up yopur good work, I would never believe that this young man and I would come to amiable terms on this day, I shall tell everyone in the Camp about this day.The Black young msan would come over to me, and now would tell me his name(Adrian). He told me that when he was 14years old that he had been falsely accused of murder, and that the State news