Real life is even stranger than “Chappelle’s Show.”
A black pro-Confederate activist faced protests from the Ku Klux Klan when he showed up at a Jacksonville, Fla., monument Monday, according to reports.
Longtime stars and bars supporter H.K. Edgerton waved the flag at the Hemming Park Confederate Monument only to be confronted by local KKK members, WTLV-TV reported.
Anti-Confederate demonstrators and supporters of the former Asheville, N.C., NAACP president spoke up for him and the odd encounter ended peacefully, Edgerton told the Daily News.
“Everything turned in my favor. All of a sudden I had my black family speaking up for my right to carry the Confederate flag,” said Edgerton, 68. “God bless the Jacksonville police because they were very honorable, and they kept an eye out for protection of everyone out there on that mall because it was intense.”
The confrontation Monday drew comparisons with a famous sketch about a black KKK leader played by comedian Dave Chappelle on his Comedy Central show.
Clayton Bigsby, a blind man made famous by racist writings, took off his white hood in a fake news story on “Chappelle’s Show” about his first public appearance. The knowledge that the leader who shouted “white power” was black caused one KKK member’s head to explode.
Edgerton could be seen holding the flag in front of the stone column monument in downtown Jacksonville in a Facebook post by one of his supporters.
The user said there had been “controversy” but the midday event had turned “all positive converting the folks to Southern Heritage now.” Edgerton said he has never supported the KKK.
“You can not do the terrible things they say and do,” he said. “Hate is not what I’m all about. I’m about the love of Jesus Christ.”
Representatives for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said they didn’t receive any calls or alerts from the park. Edgerton, who operates the website southernheritage411.com, never felt threatened by the Klan or the other protesters during the “discussion,” he said.
Dr. Neill Payne, the chairman of the board of directors of the Southern Legal Resource Center, said the Klan members heckled Edgerton until he spoke with them and described his efforts.
“He said he didn’t understand why the Klan would have a problem with him,” said Payne, who noted Edgerton had been a part of the Resource Center nearly 20 years. “H.K. has been on a march across Florida to raise awareness about not only the Confederate memorials that are imperiled, but there’s an assault on memory in this country.”
Edgerton, who usually wears a Confederate uniform at his appearances, has endured howls by white supremacists before during his decades of activism aimed at preventing the removal of Confederate memorials and symbols.
Hate-filled bloggers slammed him after he kissed a white woman onstage during an event in Stone Mountain, Ga., in 2000, according to the Intelligence Report, the magazine of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Klansmen shot up his cousin’s home when he was still an NAACP chapter president in an attack Edgerton called “terrorism.”
The NAACP suspended him long ago, though. Edgerton described slavery as an “institution of learning” for African-Americans and compared himself to Martin Luther King Jr. in an interview with the magazine of the anti-hate research and advocacy organization.
“If every African-American would pick up the Confederate flag, I would say, ‘Free at last, free at last, God almighty, I am free at last,’” Edgerton said.
Yet Ben Jones, a former Congressman and star of The Dukes of Hazzard who is the spokesman for the 30,000-member Sons of Confederate Veterans, said Monday’s episode displays how wrong it is to equate Southern heritage lovers with the Klan.
“They’re terrible people, they’re just dreadful people but they’re the ones the media focuses on,” said Jones. “They don’t represent the good heart of the South.”