Southern Legal Resource Center, Inc.
August 18, 2004
BLACK MOUNTAIN, NC — H. K. Edgerton, former NAACP officer turned Southern Heritage spokesman and Confederate Southern-American, will lead a peace march in response to an artist’s “lynching” of a Confederate flag at Gettysburg (PA) College on Sept. 3.
The lynching ceremony, titled, “The Proper Way to Hang a Confederate Flag”, will kick off an exhibition called “Recoloration Proclamation: The Gettysburg Redress” by artist John Sims. It will also feature Confederate flags that Sims has rendered in alternate colors, including African liberation colors and two “drag flags” done in pink and lavender and trimmed with spangles.
But it is the elaborate lynching ceremony — an act of symbolically “killing” the Confederate flag — that will bring him and numbers of Southern heritage defenders to Gettysburg, Edgerton says.
“We concede the right to artistic _expression,” Edgerton said. “Sims is an avant-garde ‘artist’ and this is how he promotes himself and gets free publicity for his ‘art.’. But the lynching thing is a hate crime, pure and simple. It is a mean-spirited, vicious, deliberate piece of propaganda and Sims knows it. He has an agenda. He has a right to create what he wants, but he is also answerable for the consequences of his actions.”
Edgerton says news of Sims’ project is causing a groundswell of resentment across the South, where it is seen as yet another example of Confederate-bashing that has been steadily intensifying for the past twenty years. “This sort of thing is very inflammatory,” he said. “It contributes to the climate that results in people being fired or beaten up or worse for displaying Confederate symbols.” Edgerton, Chairman of the Board of Advisors of the Southern Legal Resource Center has logged more than 3,000 miles walking across the South carrying a Confederate flag, is expected to march into Gettysburg from Chambersburg on Sept. 2, following the route that elements of Robert E. Lee’s army used in July of 1863.
Thursday night near Gettysburg College, Edgerton plans to have a candlelight reading of the names of all Confederate soldiers who died on the field at Gettysburg. A bell will be rung after the reading of each name.
Edgerton’s claim of hate inspired violence against the Confederate community is not idle, he says, and Sims’ “lynching” a Confederate flag is an accurate characterization of what is happening to the Confederate community. Lynching by definition is a killing by mob action without legal sanction or due process. “That is actually what is happening to Confederate symbols and people today!” Edgerton said.
Accompanying Edgerton will be Rick Gebo of Philadelphia, who was assaulted in front of his wife and child for displaying two Confederate flags at a bluegrass concert in Allen County on July 31. Gebo’s assailants were not apprehended; however Gebo was arrested and detained by Falls Township police. He has never been charged with anything.
Also accompanying Edgerton will be 75 year old Curt Storey of Hunker, Pennsylvania, who was fired by Burns International Security for displaying a Confederate flags on his truck bumper and lunchbox at the Pittsburgh area Sony Plant. Storey’s legal bid (filed by the SLRC) to be considered a Confederate Southern-American for civil rights purposes is pending before the 3rd Circuit United States Court of Appeal in Philadelphia, PA.
“The Confederate Community comes to Gettysburg bearing an olive branch to Mr. Sims. Our message to him is: Stop the hatred! Stop this lynching! The War is over!” Edgerton concluded.
Edgerton will participate in the candlelight prayer vigil and memorial service sponsored by the Pennsylvania Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans on Friday, September 3rd in Gettysburg.
"I invite all people of goodwill, with love in their hearts to join me in bringing a message of peace, brotherhood and reconciliation to John Sims, Gettysburg College and the good people of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania," he said.
The Southern Legal Resource Center is a non-profit South Carolina civil rights public law firm that advocates on behalf of Confederate Southern-Americans and all Americans.