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Self-proclaimed 'black Confederate' walking 'path to peace, racial reconciliation'

Carrying his Confederate flag, one North Carolinian who passed through Orangeburg Tuesday says he has a vision that some day all Americans will be enlightened to the truth.

Having made marches across many sections of the country previously during his "March to the Sea" that has a dual purpose, H.K. Edgerton said he is proud to be a black Confederate American.

"On this particular trip, I am on my way to the burial (Hunley funeral) in Charleston," Edgerton said. "We are raising funds for heritage defense for the Southern Legal Resource Center, a non-profit civil rights law firm that fights heritage violations against the Christian Cross of St. Andrew."

The former president of the Asheville Chapter of the NAACP set out on March 13 for the nearly 300-mile walk from his mountain-region home to Charleston in an effort to honor the sailors who died aboard the H.L. Hunley, and to bring awareness to myths concerning the War of 1861.

More than 30,000 people are expected to converge on South Carolina's most historic city April 17 for what's being called the last funeral of the Civil War. Historians and Southerners alike will lay to rest the crew of the H.L. Hunley, the first submarine in history to sink a warship in combat.

Edgerton admits the sight of a black man carrying a Confederate battle flag generates plenty of chances for conversation. But the 56-year-old sees these discussions as opportunities for correcting myths currently being taught about the Confederacy and its causes.

"I can tell the complexion of any community when I walk through it by the reaction of its people, and I can tell you right now that here in Orangeburg, y'all need a lot of talking to," Edgerton said.

Terry Lee Edgerton says of his brother's crusade that the public at large has been educated by a biased Northern viewpoint to cover atrocities committed against a peaceful Southern people.

"There's a war in America that ain't ever been settled up on," Terry Lee Edgerton said. "There's a lot of ill feelings still out there. The Civil War, or the War of Secession, or the War between the States, is one war that we should stay home and get right before we go meddling in somebody else's business. Because until we get that right, we won't have the harmony. Once we get that settled up on and that taken care of, America can become great."

Of his travels through South Carolina, Edgerton says overall he's received a warm reception, but in Orangeburg in particular, he said he has recognized a definite passionate feeling about the flag. Edgerton says its "too bad that most of our babies don't know who they are and don't know who their families are and that's both black and white."

"Black folks earned a place of honor and dignity under this flag," Edgerton said. "Most Southerners have been beat down about their 'Southernness' and especially about the cross of St. Andrew that I carry very proudly here."

Two curious females along Edgerton's path on U.S. 178 questioned the reasons behind the march, to them a "shocking sight."

"I was concerned and needed to know why I am looking out my door and seeing a black man carrying this flag," Orangeburg resident Lynneze Thompson said. "I needed to understand what was going on, and he (Terry Lee Edgerton) enlightened me."

Agreeing with her neighbor, Loretta Bookard said "it piques your curiosity." Holding a newspaper pointing out Northern myths, Bookard added, "I'm interested in finding out more about our history."

Edgerton has rallied in defense of the flag in several Southern cities, including Atlanta and Columbia, where the flag atop the State House led to an NAACP tourism boycott.

However, the Confederate battle flag, Edgerton said, is a Christian battle flag patterned after St. Andrew, Jesus' first disciple, who when faced with crucifixion begged to be nailed to an X-shaped cross because he was not worthy of being crucified on a cross like that of Jesus.

Local members of various Sons of the Confederate Veterans camps accompanied Edgerton through Orangeburg County Tuesday. The trek is scheduled to end on April 12 or 13.

Of his recent 1,600-mile "Walk Across Dixie" from Asheville to Austin, Tex., Edgerton wrote, "I am convinced that we must come to terms with and learn from the past. White Southerners have a legacy of heroism from the war that should not be buried. Black Southerners earned a place of dignity during the war, and they have a legacy of honor that they need to reclaim. I found in my journey that while these lessons may be lost upon the cities of the New South, the path to peace and racial reconciliation still lies along the dusty back roads of Dixie."

For more information on the April 17 Hunley funeral in Charleston, go to: www.hunleyfuneral.org.

For more information about Edgerton, go to: www.southerncaucus.org/hk18.htm

T&D Staff Writer Richard Walker can be reached by e-mail at rwalker@timesanddemocrat.com or by phone at 803-533-5516. T&D Correspondent Donna L. Holman can be reached by e-mail at ladyflyer7@msn.com