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Maryville, Tennessee/ An Encounter

On Wednesday November 16, 2005, I traveled to Johnson City, Tennessee were I met with Commander Jim Maddox at the Dixie Barbeque Restaurant , had lunch and moved on to Maryville where I would meet with an elderly Black man who had heard me speak on the Truth radio program. He asked that I not reveal his identity, but agreed that I could tell his story.

Young man you may never realize just how much good you have served for the white and colored folks around here by doing what you have done with the Confederate flag. Without knowing it you have diluted a lot of tension, and created some much needed dialogue. My grand pa told me a long time ago that young Black folks had been coaxed into doing some very bad things to white folks after that war. He said that White folks were to ashamed to admit that a great majority of them had lived under conditions far worse than any slave, before and well after the war. He said that his grand pa told him that there was a great fear by white folks of letting Black folks go off and fight carrying guns because they were rightfully afraid , and that Old Louie over in Hati had caused some of that fear and mistrust for the Black man in the South at a time when we had good relationships. He went on to say that if the shoe was on the other foot, Back folks would have responded the same way. He went on to say that his grand pa and his master were the best of friends and would laugh at how he had to talk to him when other White folk were around, but would never cotton to anyone mistreating him. His grand pa had been by the side of his master when he was killed in the war and he said that he felt an emptiness inside that would just not go away .

He told me that so many brave black boys who were friends of his grand pa had been beaten and lynched because they would not renounce their loyalty for the Confederacy after the war. He said that the reason Black folks traditionally vote in the Democratic party was because of the way they had been forced to vote for republicans, and how so many decided that it was no use in going to the polls because some of their own people were spies for the carpetbaggers who were ruthless, and further in mass they had decided they would never again vote for Republicans. He said that no matter what I heard that most of the Black folks in the South were very patriotic, and understood a lot more about the evil Yankees than what people tell. He said that the greatest speech his grand pa said he ever heard was the one given by General Nathan Bedford Forest to the Colored people after the war and they came to see him as their friend and protector no matter what people say about him now.

My new found friend reached into his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief , some what old I thought and untied the knot that it was in, and gave me three one hundred dollar bills to help cover the cost of my work he said, gave me a hug and asked that I keep up the fight for truth . I will always treasure this encounter ; in this journey I have now had many such.

HK Edgerton