Man says banning flag in schools would be divisive
By Adrienne Steinfeldt
Brandishing a Confederate flag and decked in Dixie Outfitters wear Monday morning, H.K. Edgerton said there’s one side of the story in the Ohio County schools’ Confederate flag battle that’s been completely left out.
While John Outlaw pushes for a ban of the Confederate flag in his daughter’s school — remembering the days when the flag was used to terrorize black communities in the south and a black man "could be lynched based on hearsay" — Edgerton, another black man, points further back.
He wants people to remember, and honor, the black soldiers who fought alongside white soldiers under the Confederate flag.
"We keep talking about the violent part of (the flag)," Edgerton said in a press conference Monday at Greenwood Cemetery in Owensboro. "But man’s inhumanity to man has all kinds of colors. It has nothing to do with my flag."
Edgerton traveled from North Carolina to western Kentucky this week for a chat with Ohio County schools Superintendent Soretta Ralph in what he called a "peace mission."
He sees nothing offensive about the Stars and Bars.
"We’re family, black folks and white folks," Edgerton said. "The tragedy is America began a propaganda process. The flag was used as a weapon to divide us."
Black people can be as proud of the Confederate flag as white people can, he said, and to take the symbol out of schools would be a divisive move.
"If you attack the flag, you might as well just slide that chair under the table, because there will be no dialogue," Edgerton said.
"There’s always two sides to every story," he said, and another side to this story is that black soldiers were Confederate heroes too.
He wants the schools’ planned sensitivity training to include stories of the South’s black soldiers.
Edgerton is a former NAACP president and current chairman of the board for the Southern Legal Resource Center, a group dedicated to defending the rights of southerners to celebrate their heritage.
On Monday morning, he visited a black cemetery in Owensboro that has been rejuvenated by black community members and volunteers from the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Later in the day, Edgerton met with Ralph to discuss the Confederate flag issue.
Ralph could not be reached for comment.
She will meet with Ohio County community members and representatives from the NAACP on Wednesday before the Thursday school board meeting.
Mike Walker, president of the Owensboro chapter of the NAACP, said the organization’s support of the push for a flag ban will stay strong.
Edgerton "does not speak for the minorities in this community," Walker said. "He is not the voice of the African-American people; he is only one African-American. I can only go based on what this community is asking for from the NAACP, and they’re asking the NAACP to support their efforts to have the Confederate flag removed from the Ohio County schools’ dress code, along with other symbols."
Thursday, the school board will hear a recommendation that the dress code stay as is and that sensitivity and diversity training, expanded curriculum and community forums begin in the schools.
The recommendation comes from a committee of parents, teachers and staff.