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The Annual FreeHill Homecoming / Another Lost Opportunity

Free Hill(s) a historic Black community was established northeast of Celina before the War Between the States by former slaves of Virginia Hill. Hill brought her slaves from North Carolina to then Overton County , Tennessee, purchased 2,000 hilly and rough acres, settled and freed them. The freed Blacks took the surname Hill, thus the name Free Hill(s). After 1865, other Clay County Blacks also settled in the area.

On Saturday past , July 7, 2007 , on the grounds of the Historic Rosenwald School , in the Free Hill community , many of the sons of former slaves and sons of former slave owners would share an early morning breakfast together in the schoolhouse that would mark the beginning of the annual Free Hill Homecoming weekend celebrations. Unbeknownst to those who now share this table of brotherhood in the schoolhouse cafeteria, the table was getting ready to get much bigger ; Terry Lee and I had arrived .

With the help of Marcus from Round To It Recordings , Terry Lee and I set up house under the upper pavilion , place our limited amount of dwindling educational wares on the table, which consisted of the Historic March Across Dixie Documentary DVD , shirts from Dixie Outfitters that bore the Honorable Nathan Bedford Forrest and his Black Confederate Soldiers, the Chandler Boys, Confederate Soldiers (one Black and one White )Holt Collier( Black Confederate Soldier and famous trapper), Southern Heritage 411( 3 Black Confederate soldiers raising the Third National Flag), the Historic Modern Day Confederate Hero Shirt that bears my bust , the tourniquet( Mike Scruggs edition of the Un-Civil War ) and of course my beautiful Confederate Battle Flag . Class was now in session , and waiting little time , Terry Lee with his African Drum had already began the role of the Pied Piper as the children who joined in with him led by little Jazzlin Hamilton began to fill up our space with their joyous music. An elderly Black man would come and ask of me, if I was the man who carried the Battle Flag across this land singing praises of the honor won by the Africans who fought and supported the Confederate cause. I nodded in the affirmative, and he asked if I would honor him with a picture. I thought to myself as I had done earlier; it was a fairly hot day, I had drawn as much conversation with my table display and the flag as I had hoped for. I really didn't need to put on my uniform. However, there was something almost surreal about this man before me , so I told him that I would first put on my uniform. He was so delighted and almost unbelieving that I would do this for him ; as it turned out it was the best thing I had done all day. No sooner had I taken a picture with him, I would find myself surrounded by all the ladies who had served as the volunteer staff in the cafeteria taking pictures , and buying up goods from my table. I now really began to feel like family, and as thought that things couldn't possibly get any better , standing before me was what had to be a descendant of African Royalty ; it was not just her sheer beauty , or her tall statuesque body, her beaming smile and intelligent demeanor as she questioned right away my apparent loyalty to the Confederate cause. Before I could answer , she gave a stricture (hostile criticism) on the Emancipation Proclamation , and told me that she was from Indiana , and had married a Haitian. I called her a Yankee, and told her that Haiti was cursed because of Toussant. However, the beauty before me whose name I could not give justice trying to spell, mother would arrive , and confirm my thoughts of her royalty. she would tell me that (Nita, I shall call her for short) was a Southern born child and that she had herself attended the Rosenwald School and had been born no more than a stones throw from the very spot we stood on.

I knew now that Nita would not be another parthenogenesis ( development of a new individual from an unfertilized egg) project, her mother was a Southern woman, and no matter what she had learned with her Northern education, Southern had rubbed off. I would later have a somewhat volatile, but honorable encounter with an uncle of Nita's when I told her that he didn't know what he was talking about . Later on as I stood having conversation with State Representative Les Winningham of Huntsville, Tennessee, Nita's baby girl would come to my table and in no uncertain terms tell me that she like the shirt which bore General Forrest and all those Black Confederate Soldiers. I did what I always do these days that will bring chastisement from Dewey and Terry Lee , I gave her the shirt. Representative Winningham and I would pose for more pictures as she ran off in delight. Several moments later , she would return in obvious despair, and exclaim to me that her grandmother had made her return the shirt. I then gave her Mike Scruggs book ; she ran off again in delight. I watched as she approach the crowd of folks gathered on the lower pavilion , she walked up to an elderly lady who she proudly held the book up to. I could hear her tell the baby girl to take it back without even an inquiry of the contents. I watched as the child made her way back to my table; in disappointment she handed me the book back. Feeling so hurt for this child before me, I reached into my pocket and gave her two dollars , sure that this probably would not offend the grandmother of this baby. Just as before she would return and hand me the money. I gave her a big hug , and tried to help her understand what just happened. Moments later, Nita's mother would again join me, she inquired about the little girl and the shirt. I told her of the grandmother, she replied to me that she was the little girls grandmother, and she wanted the child to have the shirt. I immediately gave it back to her. I watched as she strutted right up to the lady who had denied the child the shirt and everyone listened as she told the lady that she was not going to have any hate on the grounds of Free Hill on this day, and that was what she was bringing, and that I and my little brother had brought the truth and love to Free Hill . Before I could thank her , I was surrounded by more of my babies who wanted to purchase a shirt for the dance later on that evening.

As Terry Lee and I packed to go , our only regret was that our limited resources would not allow us to stay another day, but we had come thanks to the efforts of Mr.. Ralph Richardson, President of the Free Hills Community Board and Past State Commander of the Tennessee Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and Board member of the Friends to a place where the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners would gather for a homecoming event that we shall all forever remember , where a man adorned in the uniform of the Confederate Soldier , his Southern Cross flying in the breeze of Free Hill , with his brother on the African drum danced in the street with an African Queen and her granddaughter and waved goodbye to their family.