By Jane E. Whitehorne

Jamestown NC – With the fire and brimstone of an old time circuit rider, H.K. Edgerton takes his history lesson to the people.

A believer in the Southland of America, Edgerton stands in defense of the Confederate flag and Southern heritage. He says his favorite thing is to carry his flag and talk about the South. Edgerton is a black man.

He creates quite a stir wherever he goes as he stands quietly on street corners holding the Cross of St. Andrew, commonly called the Confederate flag. On a recent afternoon is Jamestown, Edgerton drew stares, surprised looks and unfriendly gestures from passersby as he stood calmly at the corner of Ragsdale Road and Main Street.

In town Feb. 10 to speak to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Lt. F.C. Frazier Camp #668, Edgerton stressed the importance of knowing the correct history.

"History is a circle," said Edgerton. "It goes round and round. It is so important for our children to know history.

"This is Black History Month. How can you separate black history from Confederate history? How in the world can you do it?

"You can’t let black folks walk around and not know their history. Black children don’t know anything about the Southland of America. They hate the flag because they have been taught to hate. I am not ashamed of my heritage. I am not ashamed of my flag."

The Asheville native is director of the Southern Legal Resource Center (SLRC) in Black Mountain. The Southern Legal Resource Center is a nonprofit legal foundation fighting to preserve Southern heritage.

A former president of the Asheville National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Edgerton is a longtime advocate for the disadvantaged. He spent many years counseling young people about the dangers of drug use and fighting drug dealers on the streets of Asheville. He also worked to improve the lives of poor people in his hometown.

Edgerton’s brother, Terry Lee, became the family’s first Confederate. He studied the history of black people in the South and came to believe popular history was incomplete. His ideas and beliefs became somewhat of an embarrassment for his brother the NAACP leader.

However, Edgerton began to study his brother’s history lessons and to embrace his Southern heritage. He believes in "heritage, not hate," the campaign being waged by SLRC.

"I’m trying to expand the knowledge of folks that look like me," said Edgerton. "I’m not here to defend slavery, but to promote love between black and white in the Southland. If the black folk and the white folk don’t stand together in the South, then we are in real trouble."

He believes that since the War Between the States, many politicians from both parties have sought to divide black and white in the South. He feels that if Southerners, all Southerners, do not stand together they will lose their heritage and all things that are uniquely southern.

Edgerton takes offense that history does not talk of the black men that fought side by side with white men in the Confederate Army. He takes umbrage with those who think slavery was the sole cause of the War Between the States. He believes historians have forgotten to teach the real reasons behind the war — states’ rights, states’ sovereignty, and the economy.

Edgerton has taken his fight to the people during the March Across Dixie. In the fall of 2002, he marched 1,300 miles from Asheville to Austin, Texas, preaching his gospel. Through his march, he sought to rally Southerners, generate financial contributions for SLRC and SCV, and support the cause of defending Southern heritage and symbols.

Currently, Edgerton is preparing for another march. He will walk from Marion to Charleston, S.C., beginning in March for the burial of the crew of the Hunley submarine.

"Someone said to me that as Southerners we are beaten down," said Edgerton. "That is unacceptable to me. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘I have a dream that the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will sit at the table of brotherhood.’"