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An Open Letter / The Teaching Of Hate

Several nights ago, Anderson Cooper sat interviewing Al Sharpton as they both watched a tape speech Sharpton delivered before a predominantly Black audience. This speech was on forty acres and a mule. Sharpton touted how Black folks were still waiting on not only their forty acres, but had to be content on riding a donkey this far in their lives. I felt so sadden for all those poor Blacks who had no idea that they had no forty acres and a mule coming. This was part of William Sherman's(Field Article 15) modus operandi of dividing Black and White folks in the South during so called Reconstruction. All you had to do was to be a Black man walking down the streets of Myrtle Beech, and Sherman's field articles would come into play; go over there and take one of those old army mules and we have cut out you forty acres of old man Smith's property. Sir the Black man would reply, but that property is Mr.. Smith's, ain't that stealing? Never you mind about that Nigger, you go ahead, and cause you free now, you can also go on over to Smith's house and have one of his daughters too. Pretty soon the lie was told long enough, and people began to believe it; long after all those forty acres had to be given back, right after the election of Rutherford B. Hayes, and the Union Army pulled out; leaving all those Black folks to deal with the animosity they created between Southern Blacks and Southern Whites.

Several days ago,I had the opportunity to hold a press conference on the site of the Confederate Monument in downtown Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I would speak of the love and admiration that the Black community conveyed upon Nathan Bedford Forest, before, during, and after the War Between The States. I spoke of how many a Black family owe their existence to General Forest. He was a man who made his living in the slave trade. However, unlike many of his peers, because of his humane treatment of the African people he gained great respect from those who held the economic institution of slavery in great disdain . Many a African had come to him pleading that he buy their wives or husbands,or children who had been sold. He complied on many occasion, even in times that to do so caused him to go great distances and much unnecessary expense. I would tell this press gathered of the praise General Forest gave to the forty two men Black men who rode with him, and of the Black Sons of Confederate Veterans like Nelson Windbush who I personally know; whose Grandpa rode with General Forest and spoke nothing but praise of him. I would tell the press gathered how the Black citizens of Tennessee would come to see General Forest as their first Civil Rights leader. I would be somewhat sadden to read in the local newspaper that the President of MTSU exclamation that he knew of none of this, but that General Forest had fought to keep Black folks in slavery. I'm sadden because like Sharpton, he teaches this to my babies.

Then there was a gentleman who identified himself as Reverend Brooks. I wish that I could say that I was surprised to hear such hate dialogue come from a man of the South, let alone that he also called himself a minister. It is sad that our babies are taught to hate by those who proclaim to teach of a man whose modus operandi was love, and to complicate matters even worse; far too many call themselves Southern and speak as if they have some authority over the subject matter that brought this nation into regional conflict. They speak so easily of the Ku Klux Klan, yet not one word of the Union League. They speak of slavery yet nothing of the Abomination Act, or the Morrill Act, or the Kansas Nebraska Act, or the Homestead Act. They speak so easily of Jim Crow, as if it was a Southern idea, but nothing of the Supreme Court Justices who unanimously voted for it, with the exclusion of one Southern Justice, and former plantation owner who voted no. They speak of the economic institution of slavery; blaming it on the whole of the South as if the civilized world was not complicit.They speak of slavery, an accepted practice world wide , even defended by theologians , and defended very well by the disciple Paul. It appears that in these teachings , the concept of good treatment of those who found themselves in bondage resonated as coming from God, and not against the institution itself. These men who call themselves Southern and Reverend, and at the same time ask our babies and populous to surmise our ancestors as guilty of a treasonous action, while surrendering to charges of historical misconduct and crimes never proved against them by some of the greatest,ruthless and most powerful individuals in American history. As in the time of so called Reconstruction, these men have climbed into the bed with the enemies of our fathers and now ask us to continue on the road we were forced on that separated us from the place of honor and dignity that we earned in the South at the side of the man we not only called master, but also family. This is the greatest insult of all.

My friend and brother Dr. Payne reminded me this morning that before one starts taking away history, he ought to know something about it. For all those students who want to drag the name of the Honorable General Nathan Bedford Forest into the mud. They better know that far more powerful, and haters of the South tried. General Forest's integrity, courage and honor withstood it all. Who are they to indict him for Fort Pillar, when even the likes of Sherman, who hated him could find no substance to the lies told for Northern propaganda. His actions with the Klan that broke the back of Reconstruction; a horrid time for all Southerners who faced the tyranny and subjugation of the Union League, Carpetbaggers, crooked politicians, thugs and thieves of Military rule. Perhaps those college students in Duval County, Florida who call themselves Southern and want to tarnish the name of General Forest, should study the names of Union Generals like Ivan(John)Turchin and his actions in Athens, Alabama of total terror upon Southern civilians, or Union General John Pope and his ruthless reputation in and around Missouri as he tortured and strangled civilians of Confederate partisans, General Philip Sheridan's destruction of the Shenandoah Valley on orders from Ulysses S.Grant, (a man like so many other Union Generals who later would occupy the White House )eat out Virginia clear and clean; as Grant suggested, a crow flying over the Shenandoah Valley would have to carry it's own lunch; and of course the Grand Daddy of total war as he instituted his practice of destroying live stock, food supplies, crops, and every means of agricultural production- leaving women, children, the disable, and elderly victims of total starvation. So when you students who attend Southern schools decide to make a stand against the memory of one of our Southern heroes, please remember the burning of South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, the hanging of Mary Surat and Major Wirz, the 14th Amendment, and the thousands of Northerners who came up missing, the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, the closure of many Northern newspapers; all of this because they truly believed that the South was right.

HK