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Edgerton doesn't fit mold of Confederate flag waver

Dixie Outfitters owner Dewey Barber, one of the largest manufacturers of upscale Confederate-themed sportswear in the United States, makes no apologies for embracing his Southern heritage.

Nor does H.K. Edgerton of Asheville, N.C.

Barber, who was recently appointed to the board of directors of the non-profit Southern Legal Resource Center, welcomed Edgerton to his Odum plant Friday afternoon. Later Friday, Barber and more than a dozen of his Southern-heritage colleaques honored Edgerton at a dinner at Captain Joe's Restaurant.

It was nothing out of the ordinary for Barber and his associates to gather and celebrate their Southernnesss.

But it was quite out of the ordinary to share their common values with an African-American such as Edgerton.

Edgerton, the immediate past president of the Asheville chapter of the NAACP, illustrated his love for his Southern heritage three years ago.

Clad in a replica Confederate officer's uniform and proudly carrying the controversial Confederate battle flag, he marched from Buncombe County, N.C., to Austin, Texas, a trek of some 1,300 miles.

"I'm a Southerner and I am very proud of that. As a black man, I consider that flag as our flag, too."

It was a march he called "Walkin' Across Dixie."

On the surface, it may have seemed to be a risky excursion for a man of his ethnic persuasion. But unabashed, Edgerton wanted to raise awareness that many blacks supported the Confederate cause during the Civil War.

Edgerton labels the War Between the States as the "War of Southern Independence."

"Since 1865, there has been a concerted effort to separate the North and the South by using slavery as an issue. People want to blame slavery on Christian white folks. That's simply not true," said Edgerton.

He also contended that the South had a legal right to secede and never should have been attacked for doing so.

Copyright ©2004 The Press-Sentinel