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Black Confederate Decries Free Speech Violations

Speaking at the “Confederate Heritage Dinner” in Osceola, Missouri last Saturday black activist H. K. Edgerton warned the crowd that all Southern culture was under attack by the forces of “political correctness”. Through numerous examples Edgerton emphasized over and over how symbols of Southern culture were being targeted. The Confederate Battleflag or what he termed “the Christian St. Andrews Cross” is at the center of the controversy according to Edgerton.

In a wide ranging 62 minute speech at the dinner hosted by the Col. John T. Coffee Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) at least 138 people listened to Mr. Edgerton speech. Interrupted over a dozen times with applause Edgerton’s dramatic presentation was punctuated by him waving press articles in the air pointing to them as examples that bolstered his arguments. Both black and white audience members cheered his poetic defense of the Confederate Flag.

Citing many situations that he has been involved in Mr. Edgerton built a case showing how the attack on the Confederate Flag is a calculated nationwide movement. Examples given included the First Amendment controversy at the University of Texas in Austin sparked when Edgerton attempted to honor the memory of Southern heroes by placing a Battleflag at a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee. He was restrained by police for his actions.

Echoing the policies of former Missouri Gov. Bob Holden when he took the Flag from the gravesites at the Confederate Memorial near Higginsville, Missouri Mr. Edgerton pointed to the similar actions in other Southern states like South Carolina and Georgia. Edgerton also said that schools were often being manipulated by radical elements that want to destroy Southern Culture. He highlighted the recent case at the Oak Grove (Missouri) high school where a student was given an “F” because he did his Black History month project on Edgerton’s defense of the Confederate Battleflag. To emphasize the importance of this situation he summoned the Oak Grove student, Justin Michael Williams, from the audience. Edgerton called him “my baby boy” and characterized him as a “Southern hero” in the cause of free speech.

A native of Asheville, North Carolina, a lifetime member of the SCV, and a former NAACP chairman he is currently serving on the board of the Southern Legal Resource Center. Mr. Edgerton discussed his views on many topics relating to the understanding of Southern society. Beginning his talk with leading the audience in singing “Dixie” he did not shy away from controversy. He characterized slavery in the Old South as an opportunity for “white folks to uplift themselves by showing a good example” and practicing Christian principles while taking care of the least fortunate in society. Before moving to other issues he admonished some in the audience “Think about it white folks, think about it.”

He then went on to describe how he delivered a letter to President Bush about his struggle to save Southern culture from extermination. Southern culture is disappearing he writes, “…in the face of the tyranny known as “political correctness.” He says, “I am a black man, the descendent of slaves” and in my attempt to defend Southern symbols such as the Confederate Flag “…I was greeted by an astounding outpouring of love and support from blacks and whites alike”. He goes on to say, “These people, my Southern family, hunger and thirst after righteousness. They have been fired from their jobs, lives disrupted, ridiculed, libeled, slandered, injured, and even killed for trying to express their pride in who they are…” He read the whole letter and gave examples of “cultural atrocities” from all across the South. A recent act of political vandalism was committed in Danville, Missouri when a billboard on I-70 was smashed and defaced because it featured the Confederate Flag. Mr. Edgerton’s speech received a standing ovation by the audience.

People representing Missouri and seven other states as far away as California attended the talk. Several national SCV dignitaries were also in the audience. Past (SCV) Commander in Chief Ron Wilson and Ed Deeson briefly addressed the crowd. Wilson talked about the Union Army destroying Osceola in 1861 and how important that event was to Southern history. Among other national SCV dignitaries attending were Chris Sullivan and Jim Dark. The Master of Ceremonies was Camp Commander Gary Ayres who handed off the introduction of speaker Edgerton to SCV Chief of Staff and Jefferson City native Ron Casteel.

The Confederate Heritage Dinner is an annual event hosted by the Col. John T. Coffee SCV Camp of Stockton, Missouri. Sons of Confederate Veterans is a century old military heritage society that seeks to promote a positive image of the Confederate veteran and the cause for which he fought.