Black Rebel

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 15, 2002

Man marches to keep Confederate history alive

By Alan Riquelmy / Selma Times – Journal

Bearing a Confederate flag across his shoulder and wearing a thick, pale brown uniform, H.K. Edgerton, quickly made his way along U.S. Highway 80 Thursday afternoon.

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Edgerton is the former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Ashville, N.C., and a current member of the board of directors of the Southern Legal Resource Fund.

When Edgerton says &uot;my people&uot; he means all Southerners, and not just his fellow blacks.

Edgerton is currently marching 1,385 miles from Asheville to Austin, Texas, where his trek will culminate at the state Supreme Court building. The building was constructed with funds from Confederate pension money after the Civil War and it bore two plaques with symbols of the Confederacy.

About two years ago those plaques were removed and replaced with ones stating that equal justice is available to all Texans no matter what their race may be.

Edgerton cites the controversy surrounding the removal of those plaques is just one example of what he terms &uot;the lies&uot; that have been told about Southern people and Southern culture over the years.

For example, he wants people to know that there were many blacks who fought on the side of the Confederacy of their own free will.

For Selma resident Pat Godwin, Edgerton’s march represents all those who have faced discrimination because of pride in their Southern culture. She said the flag he carries is a symbol of Southern Christianity and is based on Saint Andrew’s cross.

Edgerton not only spoke about his view of history, but also about the warm reception that he has received from many people, black and white, during his journey. Money, food and warm feelings have been staples at every stop along the way.

To drive the point home, a gray bearded man driving a truck stopped long enough to hand Edgerton twenty dollars before pulling back onto the highway.

Edgerton dismissed the naysayers who had claimed his mission would fail.

However, just as Edgerton was about to step onto Water Street after crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, a black man in a pickup truck voiced his disapproval of Edgerton’s mission.

But Edgerton did not relent and he continued his tale at the corner of Water and Broad as a small crowd gathered.

Ethel Lewis, visiting from New York state, didn’t agree.

Edgerton began his journey on October 14.

He walks about 20 miles every day, six days a week.

He hopes to reach Austin by the second week of February.