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Return Day - November 8, 2008
Contact: Terry Ayers, Publicity Chair
9 November 2008
Return Day crowd Gathers to view Biden & local Elected Officials – they also see “Black Confederate”
During the Return Day parade, the gray bearded man in the gray uniform walked both sides of the street, offering hugs and handshakes to the delight – and curiosity - of the crowd. Upon reaching the “Circle” and the judging stand, he exclaimed a high pitched “Rebel Yell” and waved the Confederate Battle Flag like a Samurai sword. Delaware’s recently re-elected Congressman Mike Castle seemed fascinated. Senator/Vice President-Elect Joe Biden crooked his neck to see and betrayed a slight smile. The crowd roared.
Seeing a Civil War re-enactor marching in the Return Day parade was not unusual. What made this re-enactor in gray unique to some was the fact he was black. The re-enactor was H.K. Edgerton, a former NAACP President from Asheville, North Carolina. He was marching - Confederate flag in hand - with the “Delaware Grays”, Sons of Confederate Veterans of Seaford, Delaware. He had come to Return Day at the invitation of the Delaware Grays to offer a point of view: the Confederate Battle Flag is a symbol of Southern heritage and that black Americans had earned a place of honor defending the South during the Civil War (1861-1865).
VP-Elect Biden had campaigned for President in South Carolina earlier in the year, saying the people of the Palmetto state should throw the Battle Flag on the Confederate soldier’s monument on the statehouse grounds “All the way out of the state”. Ironically, in 2007 the Sons of Confederate Veterans had erected a monument to Delaware Confederates at the Marvel Museum in Georgetown in which the Confederate Battle Flag and other historical Southern flags fly on a daily basis.
Edgerton’s point of view is that the Confederate flag stands for “Heritage not Hate” and has been misused by hate groups. He also points out that tens of thousands of blacks served the South honorably in various support capacities during the war years 1861-1865 – as teamsters, cooks, laborers and even soldiers, taking up arms in the war that pitted brother against brother. One soldier – a sailor and person of color from Georgetown named David White, served aboard the CSS Alabama and his name is listed on the Delaware Confederates Monument. In his spirit – and the shoes of many others like him – HK walked the Return Day parade route, causing many in the crowd to re-think history as they learned it in school.