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Presentation To Lake City, Florida City Council / 07-16-2012
Mr. Mayor, Honored members of Council, and members of the Public. I am HK Edgerton, President of Southern Heritage 411, Chairman of the Board of Advisers Emeritus of the Southern Legal Resource Center, and hold numerous Honorary and Associate memberships in the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a 501C3 non-profit Heritage organization, and am bound by oath by its Charge to defend the Confederate soldiers good name.
After having read the comments made by individuals acting in their capacities as officials of the NAACP, posted in the Columbia Observer July 3, 2012 in an article titled: "The Stars and Bars won't go away". Comments we at the Center deem to be slanderous, and filled with libelous innuendos directed towards the Sons as an organization, individual members, and your very own Police Chief, the Honorable Argatha Gilmore.
Having said, after speaking with Chief Gilmore and expressing a desire to come before you and this community, I am bound by her request not to come here to lambaste those individuals or the organizations they represent, but to offer a message to you and this community to ponder that would lead to a healing process between all concerned .
Thereby, I direct you to pages 26, 31, 47, 67, and 83 of the Pictorial Journal authored by Terry Lee Edgerton, titled "The March Across Dixie Pictorial Journal," and ask that you also view the Dixie Outfitters apparel placed before you as well. I believe that these pages address Andora Nweze, President of the Florida NAACP, concerns that a Police Chief or Policeman in uniform would take a picture like the one in the Observer taken by your Chief in her capacity not only as a law enforcement officer, but also as an Ambassador of Goodwill as she greeted these very honorable men at the Olustee Festival.
NAACP President John Mayo voiced concern about a jacket that read "Ride With Forrest," and that the Honorable General Nathan Bedford Forrest founded the Klan, and that everybody knows that the Southern Cross is known by everybody to be a hate symbol. While General Forrest did head up the Klan, his leadership helped break the back of so called reconstruction in the South, and the criminal activities of the Union League and Carpetbag rule that heaped terror especially upon the women of the South, in lieu of their race or social status. I also point out that 40 plus Black men rode with Forrest, and as quoted on the Dixie Outfitters apparel, "These boys stayed with me ...and better Confederates did not live."
Lastly, and most compelling for this community to ponder, is that this man who was exonerated by Northern officials from charges related from his actions at Ft. Pillow, would be asked by the Jubilee Pole Bearer to give a speech at its dinner meeting. It is important to note that this group was a forerunner to Civil Rights organizations of today, and that Forrest was the first white man to be asked. A reporter of the Memphis Avalanche was sent to cover the event, and writes: Miss Lou Lewis, daughter of a Pole Bearer member, was introduced to Forrest and she presented the former General a bouquet of flowers as a token of reconciliation, peace and good will. (July 5, 1875.)
Forrest speech: Ladies and gentlemen, I accept the flowers as a memento of reconciliation between the white and colored races of the Southern states. I accept it particularly as it comes from a colored lady, for if there is any on God's earth who loves the ladies, I believe it is myself. (Immense applause and laughter) I come here with jeers of some white people, who think that I am doing wrong. I believe I can exert some influence and do much to assist the people in strengthening fraternal relations, and shall do all in my power to elevate every man to depress none. (applause)
I want to elevate you to take positions in law offices, in stores, on farms, and wherever you are capable of going,. I have not said anything about politics today. I don't propose to say anything about politics. You have a right to elect whom you please: vote for the man you think best, and I think when that is done, you and I are free men. Do as you consider right and honest in electing men of office. I am not a speaker, and my business prevented me from preparing myself. I came to meet you as friends, and welcome you to the white people. I can serve you, I will do so. We have but one flag, one country, let us stand together. We may differ in color, but not in sentiment. Many things have been said about me which is wrong, and which white and black persons here, who stood by me through the war, can contradict. Go to work, be industrious, live honestly, and act truthfully, and when you are oppressed, I'll come to your relief. I thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for this opportunity you have afforded me to be with you, and to assure that I am with you in heart and hand. (prolonged applause)
Nathan Bedford Forrest thanked Miss Lewis for the bouquet and then gave her a kiss on the cheek. Such a kiss was unheard of in the society of those days in 1875, but it showed a token of respect and friendship between Forrest and the black community and did much to promote harmony among the citizens of Memphis.
In conclusion, many sons and loyal subjects of the South thank Chief Gilmore for the same. And thank President Obama for sending a wreath of flowers to the Confederate Monument in Arlington on Confederate Memorial Day, in lieu of threats not to vote for him if he did so. God bless you, and thanks for allowing me to speak.
Southern Heritage 411