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An Open Letter / An End Of An Era / The Accounting

Open April 14, 2007, I shall deliver my final public speech to the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Cleveland, Georgia. However, I shall today deliver an accounting that so many of my detractors believe that they are due, and one in which I had planned on putting in a book with far less detail, that I no longer have the stomach for.

On a cold and rainy winter morning more than a decade ago in downtown Asheville, North Carolina, the Honorable Roger McCredie, the then National Commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and now Director of the Southern Legal Resource Center would present to me , the first Confederate Flag that I would take into battle (the Third National) ; along with admonishing to me that I never bring dishonor to it. From that point on I would drive the three miles from my home, park in the all day parking garage, and then promptly head to the office of the NAACP where I would began a three month long vigil in the rain, snow , sleet, and occasion sunshine, before one day I would be joined by the Honorable Doctor Neil Payne and Chief Trial Counselor of the SLRC, Kirk D.Lyons; never once receiving one dime for the parking fee, or a paltry meal during the eight hours I would spend standing there six days a week. On the seventh day I would drive another 5 miles from my home and from 7:am until 2:30 PM, adorned in the uniform of the Southern soldier I would stand over the bridge of Interstate 40, waving and confabulating with the many people on the highway, and others on their way to and from the several churches along the way. On one such morning, a gentleman in a red SUV would reach out from his window and present me with a $5 dollar bill , and would do so for more than a year. Later on two brothers would park their truck,cross the bridge, bring me a cup of much needed chocolate and $2.00 on these same Sunday mornings. I could now depend on at least $7.00 worth of gas for my Bronco on these Sunday mornings. On one of these occasions I would be offered an outrageous sum of $10,000.00 for my Third National and uniform from two Yankee business men, who had $3,000 in cash to show as good faith money. I would decline the offer.

While visiting the office of the SLRC, I would receive a telephone call from a student who was attending the prestigious and Private Asheville School. He would tell me that the Head Master had made him remove the Confederate Battle Flag from his school dorm, and wondered if there was anything that I could do to help him. I would once again adorn the uniform of the Southern soldier, pick up his glorious flag, drive the eight miles from my home, and every morning, five days a week, for 6 months sharply at 6:30 am until 3:00 pm, I would began standing and marching up and down one of the entrances of the school , and up the quarter of a mile to the other entrance. On one such afternoon, I would be joined by the then Commander of my home Camp of the SCV( Zebulon Vance #15), the Honorable Jim Holbrook, the Honorable Roger McCredie, and my dear friend Ms.Melissa Capps along with her very young children, one a new born in a stroller. Ms Capps would present me with a $100 bill, the largest donation I had ever received for doing something that I loved, and believe me with the state of repairs the Bronco needed and the price of gas going higher, it came right on time.Then one Friday morning, an elderly couple would drive up hand me a McDonalds bag that contained a cup of coffee, a sandwich an a $20 bill; they would repeat this scene every Friday morning.

I would later learn that the Cracker Barrel Restaurant Chain had removed all paraphernalia that bore the Southern Cross; and I would split the time with the school by marching the some 5 miles further down the road from the school, hold a vigil there, and march back before school let out. One day while standing at the school entrance, I would be told of a family cemetery that contained a slave section; Mr.. Don Taylor would show me the slave section of this cemetery which was in chaos. He would give me permission to clean it, and after the vigils I would spend hours until night fall working right there on the grounds of the school. Commander Holbrook would one day bring his brother and a group of men from the Zeb Vance Camp, and remove some very large trees and brush with equipment that I did not have. Finally one afternoon during Baccalaureate Services, as the school year was about to end, as I worked in the cemetery with a large Battle Flag flying overhead under the auspices of a very large helium balloon , joined by a Black school teacher and several other teachers and children from their classes at the Sand Hill Venable School for Special Children who had come to volunteer to help me in my task to clean the cemetery ; I would learn that the Head Master had reversed his stand, and that my babies could once again hang their flag in the dorm room.

I would began speaking alongside Dr. Payne and Kirk D. at functions they began taking me to ; soon I would be asked to speak autonomously where I would be offered an honorarium. I would present that honorarium in its entirety for over two years to the SLRC as I watched them grovel for much needed funds to defend the many, many, never ending trail of clients to this very day who come to their doors seeking help with no money to mount that defense. Finally one evening at midnight as we returned from one such affair , Dr.Payne and Kirk D insisted that I share equally in the funds that had been provided from the passing of the hat that is commonly done at SCV Camp meetings for guest speakers to help cover the cost of their expense to attend . My Bronco finally died one afternoon as I headed home from Greenville, South Carolina having spent one of the many Fridays alongside my compatriots outside the school of St.Joseph High School and the offices of the Speaker of the House in support of my friend and fellow compatriot Dr. Winston McQuen who had been fired for having a Confederate Battle Flag in his classroom for teaching purposes. The grand sum total for my pay from this venture came from the general fund of the SLRC in the form of $50 for gas fare, and lunch for the 200 mile round trip affair. Kirk D. would send out a call for help to repair the transmission in the Bronco, and my Southern family would respond in kind. I would be asked later to attend and speak at a rally in support for Dr. McQuen on a snowy afternoon in the mountains. Thousands of dollars would be collected there from the people in attendance , and not one would be offered to my brother and I who had braved a winter storm, for a gallon of gas,or a meal at McDonalds.

In between the days of spending months up and down the highways and by ways carrying the flag, either by myself , or with Kirk D., and Dr.Payne, would come Hickory, North Carolina where the Sons of Confederate Veterans name had been removed from the Towns welcoming board. I would once again adorn the uniform of the Southern soldier, pick up the Southern Cross, and drive the some 110 ten miles across the mountains, where I would began a vigil in front of the City Council Chambers from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm five days a week for over 2 months. My rate of pay $50 for gas and food for the 220 mile trip affair . Shortly thereafter would come the Alcoa Plant in far away Cabarrus County, just outside Charlotte, N.C., where with my dear friend Ms. Vicky Posten, another battle would began, and I would drive once a week the some 510 mile round trip to help my friends and family. My rate of pay, $100.00 from the general fund of the SLRC for gas, and food for the day spent there. Then came Texas, the removal of the Confederate from the school house at Hayes County High School, and the removal of the plaques from the Supreme Court Building.The Sons of Confederate Veterans must have appreciated their investment in my airplane ticket, and the days I spent alongside them holding a vigil on the grounds of the Capitol and for good measure outside Hayes County in the Texas sun by myself there. They would later invite me back to give the keynote speech at their State Convention, where I would be made an Honorary Life Member of the Texas Division of the Sons, and be given $500 as an honorarium to speak; whoopee ! God bless them; I finally had some money of my own to fight with, and while staying at the beautiful home of Colonel Lyons all the time; what a treat !

I could go on like this for a very long time. However, I shall fast forward to the grand Historical Marches just in hope that by now one can start to get the picture. I will never forget the disappointment that Terry Lee and I shared the night before we were to come home after marching over 1,600 miles, some 20 miles a day, six days a week, that a grand sum of $500 had been collected for that return trip, and learning that the real sum collected was $90. We left Texas somewhat dejected in the middle of the night.

However, on the brighter side, thanks to the generosity of the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy, the Orders of the Confederate Rose, Dr. Hill and the League of the South, the Southern Party, and the many people from both the North and Southlands of America we were able sleep and eat in the style of royalty all the way to the Capitol in Austin. Then would come the March from Littleton, N.C. to the Capitol in Virginia alongside my brother and Compatriot Fred Taylor, confabulating with the populous all along the way in support of our Southern Heritage , my rate of pay, spending the time with Fred in a beautiful lakeside cabin until we would spend the time at the beautiful home of his mom and dad sharing the best meals that North Carolina, and Virginia could offer. Then came the March to the Hunley from Old Fort North Carolina into Charleston, where once again like all the other Marches I would solicit an unprecedented amount of free press for the Southern cause . My rate of pay, a place for lodging for the nights that I spent in motels along the way, and a good meal paid for by either the Sons,or Daughters, the League of the South, my brother Terry Lee, and a handful of my Southern family. Then there was the short strut in Senator Strom Thurmond's funeral procession. My rate of pay; Terry Lee, my brother paid for the nights lodging and the gas mileage to and from Columbia and on into Edgeville, South Carolina where I was the only person to adorn the uniform of the Confederate Soldier and bearing the Confederate Battle Flag in the procession, and on into the cemetery at Edgeville, the Senators final resting place. The Black History March in Virginia, a very short strut. My rate of pay $300 from the Virginia Division of the Sons for gas, food, and lodging for the some 1,200 miles of round trip travel. Then there was the March Across Virginia, where on the anniversary date of the Historic March Across Dixie, I would run out of funds, go into winters quarters hoping that I could raise enough money for supplies, travel, and lodging to finish the final 100 miles into the Capitol by early spring. However, I now find that unlikely,and am faced with the proposition of my first failed March.

David Morgan of the Asheville,/Hendersonville Tribune and my dear friend Mike Scruggs would began writing articles on the great war to help in the education process that I was trying to provide to the people with all the marching, and vigils. I would began storing the weekly articles,and began passing them out to the various events I would attend. Pretty soon my van, and home began to resemble a paper factory, I had to rent a storage bin to house the articles that I could not deliver fast enough. I would ask people for a donation for the papers, most of the time receiving none, but understanding there was a message here that needed to be delivered, I would pass them out anyway. Dewey Barber, the CEO and Owner of Dixie OutFitters had already honored me by including in their clothing line the historic HK Edgerton Shirt, where I would become the first living person in the Modern Confederate Hero Line. It was one of the greatest honors ever bestowed upon me. He went even further by providing me with shirts to help with the tremendous financial burden that I had began to incur, especially after the SLRC could no longer afford to help pay the expenses of my many travels to do battle in the streets. As good as this may sound, I soon found myself giving away far more shirts than I was able to accept donations for. How could I let any child at a living History event go without one, who had no money to pay for one or any other person for that matter; after all it was some kind of PR to see the flag of the South on a shirt that bore an image of a Black man. Then the Tribune decided to condense all those articles into a book which I was to sell and use some of the proceeds to help cover the cost of the mounting expense I was getting trying to educate and promote Southern History from the perspective of Southerners. This turned out to be a worse disaster than my shirts because even more opportunities would present themselves that called for me in the name of PR, and educating some entity would occur. I couldn't ask some Mayor, news person, educator , politician, or just plain citizen every time out to pay for the book. The time dictated that I present them with a shirt, or book, or even one of the many documentary tapes of Terry Lee's with a copy. Yet when I go to my southern family to help in this worthwhile endeavor of educating and promoting the South, I am called a money grubber. Most of the time just like the recent events in Florida, I am lucky to escape breaking even from all that I give away, and the other related expenses of the journey.

In conclusion, after 14, 2007, I shall resign my position at the newly formed Southern Heritage 411, give my final speech, place applications with McDonalds, Wendy's or even Wal-Mart, and if I am lucky to get hired; I shall enjoy more security in benefits and salary than I have enjoyed at any time during my tenure at the NAACP, the SLRC, or Southern Heritage 411. I will furl my flag at that time and bid you all a very grateful adieu for the opportunity afforded in my fight for the down trodden in the Southland of America.