Restore The Honor, Reveal The Truth

By Col. Michael Kelly, 37th Texas Cavalry

After Action Report

In late October the call was made to Southerners of good conscience to join with members of the 37th Texas to stand in Biloxi on November 30th and show the world that the Ku Klux Klan does not "own" the flags of the Confederacy or represent the real South.

The Klan and other hate groups have had 40 years to foment their lies almost unopposed and create an image of the South and the Confederacy which has forced us into the position of "Southern heritage defense." This was planned as the start of a new phase of activism intended to salvage our good name as Southerners.

The local SCV Sam Davis Camp 596, the Mississippi Division of the SCV, and even the SCV Army of the Tennessee came out in open opposition to the call to publicly show disapproval of the Klan and their lies. Strong words were used by the SCV to try to intimidate its members.

These SCV groups predicted that participants would be "painted with the same brush;" that it would "end up in a shouting match with the Klan;" that Col. Kelley was "looking to get his name on the internet and in the paper no matter what the cost;" and that "the media will do what they want."

The Communications Director of the Southern Independence Party of Texas recommended that we "negotiate with the Klan" and reach "an accommodation" to try to get the Klan to agree to fly "only the battle flag and not the national flags." We refused to consider such a surrender both in communication with the Communications Director and with the President of the SIP of Texas.

Following notification that the Klan HAD been granted their permit plans went into full swing. Southerners willing to take a stand individually gathered over the Internet. These included Jeff Davis, descendant of President Jefferson Davis, and a number of other long-term members of the SCV from Texas, Georgia, and Florida who had served or were serving as officers of SCV and MOS&B camps.

Communications arrived from the "Grand Kleagle" and the "Imperial Wizard" of the Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Their subtle "innuendos" were treated with disdain and they soon stopped.

A local Klan supporter advised us that we were acting against the wrong people and that we would wind up in a street brawl with the local Black "activists" and that "the only people who could help you are the ones you are demonstrating against."

Col. Kelley was invited to appear on the WJZD radio talk show of local "disadvantaged angry Black man" Rip Daniels who has previously used similar events to promote himself. Because of his prior experience with Mr. Daniels, Col. Kelley held him off until the last moment before declining the invitation, leaving Rip with only the local Klan representative.

The 37th’s 1st SGT Bob Harrison and Trooper Randy Bender committed to show. It was immediately necessary to raise the funds needed to fly 1st SGT Harrison in from Virginia and that goal was met mostly from within the ranks of the 37th.

Coordination with SGT Rhodes, Community relations Director of the Biloxi Police Department, was cordial and provided us a recommended publicly-owned site to assemble and stand which was along the Klan’s march route in a part of old downtown Biloxi now known as the Vieux Marche Mall.

Attendees assembled at the appointed site about Noon on Saturday, November 30, introduced ourselves, and began the task of "marking our spot" and getting the flags ready to fly. Col. Kelley met with SGT Rhodes and discussed the event and provided instructions for the planned conduct of the event and how we would deal with supporters or hecklers.

We were surprised and pleased when a number of local residents showed up to stand with us and support our effort.

Moments of humor were provided by a member of the 1st Mississippi, United States Colored Troops, whose conversational style could best be described as "If I yell louder and longer than you, I win!" He proceeded to misquote multiple items of history including both Confederate AND Union documents and deny established fact.

Shortly thereafter a white gentleman who introduced himself as a "Ph.D. and Director of a Black History Museum" added a bit of hysterical shrieking about his disagreement with our group’s knowledge of the true history of the Confederacy and the service of Black Confederates. When asked why the Emancipation Proclamation had specifically NOT freed any slaves living in Union states or Union-controlled areas he responded, "You’re stupid! The proclamation freed ALL the slaves!"

It was politely recommended that this "Ph.D." take an opportunity to reread his history more carefully and he was then dismissed.

We collected ourselves, got to know each other, and prepared ourselves and our flags for the upcoming passing of the Klan on their march route. During this time we answered questions from those who were genuinely interested in discussing history and the press interviewed many of the group, including Mobile’s WALA TV’s ten minutes with Jeff Davis and the Sun Herald’s Tom Wilemon speaking with 1st SGT Harrison and others.

The Klan’s approach was heralded by the bullhorns and whistles being used by the "Black activists" hounding them, so we formed up and prepared. When they turned the corner the "Attention!" order was issued, followed shortly by "About face!" and we turned our backs on the Klan and the "Black activists" while we kept our flags flying high.

After the Klan passed the horde of about 200 "Black activists" descended upon us as we calmly broke ranks and prepared to load our flags and depart the area. Now the entertainment began as the "Black activists" swirled around and tried to separate members of the group in order to take advantage of their numbers, shouting and gesticulating in an attempt to provoke a confrontation to attract the press.

The highlight of this "show" was local DJ and resident "angy Black man" Rip Daniels and his transparent attempts to provoke a physical confrontation by putting his bullhorn six inches from his "intended victim" and shrieking at the top of his lungs. All of our attendees remained calm and dignified – never failing to smile politely, addressing all who addressed us with proper Southern manners, and refusing to engage in an exchange of raised voices or insults.

When their attempts at provocation – which showed them to be just as filled with prejudice and hatred as the Klan they were vilifying – proved to be a failure they dashed away to again hound the Klansmen who were quick-stepping their way along a block away.

The "activists" and "protesters" generally showed themselves to be only the other side of the same coin of hate.

NONE of the dire predictions of doom and gloom made by various parties came true and Col. Kelley’s name was not even mentioned in the followup story published in the Mississippi Sun Herald newspaper or any of the television coverage.

Clear and objective newspaper coverage was as follows:

Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
http://www.accessatlanta.com/ajc/epaper/editions/saturday/news_d38ea594721041b90037.html

New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Picked up the Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Cox News Service story ("Confederate re-enactors try to take back Rebel flag")

Memphis Commercial Appeal:
http://www.gomemphis.com/mca/midsouth_news/article/0,1426,MCA_1497_1578388,00.html

Biloxi Sun Herald:
http://www.sunherald.com/mld/sunherald/news/local/4627863.htm
http://www.sunherald.com/mld/sunherald/news/local/4639822.htm

Again, clear and objective television reporting appeared on the following channels:

WVUE Fox 8 – New Orleans

WLOX Fox 25 – Biloxi

WALA Fox 10 – Mobile*

*WALA reported accurately on Sunday, Dec. 1, then an editing change was made by an unauthorized staff member and the Morning News read "…but the Confederate reenactors say the KKK is not about hate but Southern pride. Many disagree." Following a conversation with the News Director and an Email of apology from him a correction and apology aired Wednesday, Dec. 4, and was repeated five times in two and a half hours during the Morning News broadcast:

"Fox 10 News would like to correct a story we aired on Monday morning. It concerned an appearance by members of the Royal Confederate Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Biloxi during the weekend. The K-K-K was in Biloxi after voters in Harrison County voted in favor of keeping the Confederate flag flying at the public beach. At that march was a group of Confederate re-enactors opposing the K-K-K. The 37th Texas Cavalry and other supporters protested the Klan’s appearance. The re-enactors say it is important to restore the factual history of the South. Fox 10 apologizes for any misunderstanding of the position of the 37th Texas Cavalry."

We do wish to commend the News Director of WALA for his assertion that "The buck stops here!" and his response to our concerns.

The November 30th effort was a resounding success locally and in the press. The total silence of the SCV, LoS, SP, SIP, and other heritage groups seems incredible in the view of such out of the ordinary positive press on behalf of the Confederacy.

For those who support this new, positive and successful activism we offer a Dixie Outfitters t-shirt which is a joint effort of the 37th Texas and Dixie Outfitters. This is being offered by Dixie Outfitters at their cost and the 37th makes no profits from its sales:

http://www.dixieoutfitters.com/restorehonor.html

The gauntlet has been thrown and the good fight has begun. Learn about the new organization which will enable good Southerners to speak with one loud voice and speak the truth about the South, the Confederacy, and our history.

Original Link (with photos, etc.): http://37thtexas.org/html/restore.html