Former NAACP official speaks on its role in Southern History
By Zack Smith
AMHERST —Wearing a large brown-yellow suit, H.K Edgerton sat comfortably in his chair in the Amherst County High School gym as costumed Civil War re-enactors performed as a Confederate color guard. As they finished, he got up to salute them. A descendant of Private John Edgerton, who served in Rutherford County in North Carolina in the Civil War, Edgerton has defended the Confederate battle flag for more than 12 years.

In 2002, he marched more than 1,600 miles on foot from Asheville, N.C., to Austin, Texas, to spread his message about the flag’s role in Southern history.

On Friday night, Edgerton, a former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Asheville, appeared before a crowd of about 150 people to discuss his feelings on what he called the "cultural genocide" of Southern heritage.

Edgerton said before the event that he believes that the flag represents the history of blacks who fought on the side of the Confederacy.

He said that he believes denying the roles of blacks in the Confederacy only serves to separate blacks from whites, and expressed disappointment with Amherst County’s removing the flag from its county seal.

"Instead of educating our children, (politicians) sneak around and do things behind our backs to continue to separate us," Edgerton said.

Edgerton also said that he rejected the "politically correct" label of "African-American."

"I was born colored and Negro, and that’s an honorable thing to be," Edgerton said.

"I am not Frankenstein. I am H.K. Edgerton, black Confederate Southern American, and an American, period."

Kenneth Burks of Lynchburg, a fan of Edgerton’s work, called him "a great man."

"I think he’s showing history the way it should be taught," Burks said.

Dewey Barber, the owner of the Georgia-based Dixie Outfitters chain of stores, called Edgerton "a modern-day Southern heritage hero," and "one of the greatest civil rights activists of our generation."

"He works 24/7 for Southern heritage, and he does it at his own expense," said Barber, who owns five Dixie Outfitters franchises throughout the south.

"He does it for love of the South and his love of all men."

Edgerton appeared as part of a fundraiser co-sponsored by Dixie Outfitters, the Garland-Rodes Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp No. 409 in Lynchburg and the Lynchburg Historical Foundation.

The fundraiser was to help raise money for rebuilding the Marshall, a packet boat that was used to take Stonewall Jackson’s body from Lynchburg to Lexington in May 1863.

The Marshall was subsequently damaged in 1864 when Gen. David Hunter’s army rode through Lynchburg, and finally placed in Riverside Park in 1936.

Sally Schneider of the Lynchburg Historical Foundation said that a groundbreaking for a building to preserve the Marshall’s hull would take place at Riverside Park at 10 am. May 13.