African-American man will march from Johnson City
The June 13 decision by the Maryville Board of Education to ban the Rebel flag has caught the attention of a man known for protesting what he refers to as “the cleansing of Southern history.”
H.K. Edgerton himself draws notice because he is an African-American who promotes his cause by donning a Confederate uniform and marching with a Rebel flag.
He said he plans to march from Johnson City to Maryville to “do a lot of educating” and get support for his group.
Likely his best known activism involved his 2002 walk carrying a Confederate flag from Asheville, N.C., to Austin, Texas, in an attempt to get the attention of President Bush.
The Southern Legal Resource Center, a group self-described as “defending rights of Southerners to honor their culture and heritage,” issued a press release Friday announcing Edgerton plans to carry a Confederate battle flag from Johnson City to Maryville. Edgerton is chairman of the resource center’s board of advisers.
Edgerton will start his walk at Dixie Barbecue in Johnson City at 6:30 a.m. Monday and expects to arrive in Maryville late Saturday or early Sunday, July 3. The march is sponsored by the Tennessee Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, according to the release.
“The battle for the preservation of Southern history and culture is being waged most heatedly in our schools,” Edgerton said in the news release. “These students are being force-fed a whole system of propaganda that tells them Southern history is tainted by slavery and Confederate symbols are racist. They are being taught that the only acceptable way to express being Southern is to apologize for it. Well, I intend to put a dent in that.”
He said his group has encountered other situations similar to the Rebel flag decision in the Maryville schools.
“It’s like it was scripted,” Edgerton said in the release. “A school board bans Confederate symbols. The students or parents get in touch with us. We point out to the schools that they are violating the students’ rights. Sometimes the school board listens; sometimes it doesn’t. If it doesn’t listen, we go to court.”
Edgerton claimed his group “very often” wins in court.
“You’d think they’d pay attention after awhile. But then, I’m reminded of a quote from Mark Twain: `In the first place God created idiots. This was for practice. Then he made school boards.”’
Edgerton is a former National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter president in Asheville. He was suspended from the organization in 1998 for noncompliance with state and national NAACP rules.