The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Rewriting History: A Black Neo-Confederate Speaks

By Brentin Mock on November 8, 2007 - 9:15 am, Posted in Neo-Confederate

HK EdgertonLast week, African-American neo-Confederate activist H.K. Edgerton stopped by Montgomery, Ala., to commemorate the five-year anniversary of his 1,385-mile “March Through Dixie,” a fundraising trek from his home in Asheville, N.C., to Austin, Texas. He was dressed in a gray Confederate soldier’s uniform and hoisted a large Confederate flag, mounted on a pole, over his right shoulder. While visiting Montgomery, Edgerton — an extremely rare black face in the overwhelmingly white neo-Confederate movement — granted Hatewatch an interview in which he detailed his unique perspectives on the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan, and race relations in the antebellum and postwar South. Here are just a few of his more interesting assertions:

• Before the slaves were freed, “Black folks and white folks were family,” he said. “We did all kinds of things together here. White people and slaves saw each other on the streets and they tipped their hats to each other … and asked each other about their families.”
• “The War Between the States is not over. This thing is real!”
• “I don’t see [the Ku Klux Klan] as terrorists. I see them as — I hate to use the word ‘vigilante,’ but vigilante sometimes ain’t as bad as you think. When your government fails you and fails to protect you, you have to turn somewhere.”
• The KKK was “just protecting the people — all of the people, black and white. Blacks wanted to be a part of that.”
• “Why would a man tell my babies [that] walking into a classroom with a Confederate flag on [their clothing] that [that is] demonic, evil and offensive? Black folks in the South been living with that flag all our lives.”
• “It wasn’t so much about [then-Alabama Gov.] George Wallace going to the schoolhouse doors, saying, ‘No, you can’t integrate.’ The thought in his mind was, ‘No, you can’t tell me to integrate. Let us deal with this, and we’re gonna deal with it.’”
• Slaves “were given a new pair of pants and a new pair of shoes every day, and he thinks this white man was cruel! [Black slaves] had the same medical facilities that the white man had. … You look at most of the slave pictures … they are not raggedy and torn. They lived better than most! … Most of them looked better than most of the white folks around and lived better than most of the free world!”

Edgerton also defended what he said was the constitutional right of white supremacists to display hangman’s nooses and addressed what he called “rumors” of dissension between himself and his neo-Confederate allies — the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Southern Legal Resource Center (SLRC), and SLRC head Kirk Lyons. (Lyons had been one of Edgerton’s odder bedfellows of recent years — Lyons spent most of his career as a lawyer defending white supremacists, and was married on the grounds of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations by its late leader in a ceremony in which infamous Klan leader Louis Beam was the best man. Despite that, until recently, Lyons regularly depicted Edgerton, who is the former head of the Asheville NAACP, as his good friend.)

Earlier this year, Lyons seemed to be disassociating himself from Edgerton when he wrote, “The SLRC is not and has not been involved in any of H.K.’s travel or appearances for some time.” But Edgerton claimed he is still chairman emeritus of the SLRC’s board of advisers and insisted that there “never” was any dissension.

In fact, Lyons is just “a misunderstood man” Edgerton said. “If every bigot in America was Kirk Lyons, we’d never have another bigotry problem, ever.”

When the interview concluded, Edgerton walked to a 2005 champagne-colored Cadillac DeVille and popped the trunk, revealing a wealth of Confederate flags, stickers and pamphlets.

Last March, Sons of Confederate Veterans activist Elijah Coleman accused Edgerton of the unauthorized sale and use of SCV-issued Confederate battle flags as well as demanding large amounts of money to buy a new car.

Edgerton said the Cadillac belonged to his sister.

  • Nancy Green

    Slaves and owners were just like a family, where the father sells some of his children and hangs the ones who try to escape.
    The truth isn’t pretty, but inventing a history that never existed is insane.

  • JJ

    And since when does standing up for your constitutional rights against an unconstitutional and tyrannical federal government rebellion? If someone invaded your home, are you gonna fight and defend your family? Or are you gonna cower down because you might be labeled a “rebel”? The true history of the war isn’t taught anymore but you can still learn about it by researching original source documents. You can’t be small-minded when it comes to history.

  • JJ

    If you wanna label the South racist because of slaves, then you should do the same to the New England states responsible for the trade and the ships waving the United States flag that brought them here and the African tribes who conquered weaker tribes and sold their own fellow African into slavery. The northern states din’t get rid of slavery for noble cause; they only did it because they found a more profitable means for making money.

  • Patrick J

    well as a historian all of what he is saying is not untrue … historicaly speaking that is
    now as a southerner i do sypathize with confederate views but i’m far from concitering myself a “neo-Confederate”
    and historicaly more, FAR ,more black people faught for the south than the north its just a fact so if he wants to honor that i see no harm.
    but a neo nazi thats just weird

  • Root

    A well fed well dressed slave is still but a slave.
    What is this obsession with a squashed rebellion?
    Things are messed up now and mostly because of these neo-cons, and southern cry babies and the limping liberal wimps that grant concessions to them.

    Human Loyalty should be to the Human Race as there is only one Race and it should not languish under the whip.

  • J. Stephen Conn

    My hat is off to H. K. Edgerton. Apparently he knows the true history of the Confederate States of America and the War Between the States and his distractors are showing their ignorance and intolerance.

  • jim meadows

    H.K. Edgerton is telling the truth. He has done his homework well.
    “Before the slaves were freed, “Black folks and white folks were family,” he said. “We did all kinds of things together here. White people and slaves saw each other on the streets and they tipped their hats to each other … and asked each other about their families”
    [Black slaves] had the same medical facilities that the white man had. … You look at most of the slave pictures … they are not raggedy and torn. They lived better than most! … Most of them looked better than most of the white folks around and lived better than most of the free world!”

    After the War Between the States, it was real hard on the Black people. Nowhere to live, no medical, had no clothing provided. The South was broke and burned. The whites had it no better. And we still haven’t recovered if you ask me.

  • http://none mick davis

    Edgerton is a hero, not a fool. If you live in America you should see yourself as an American first, then your ethnic background. Mr. Edgerton as myself see that a lot of our leaders today see themselves as rich men first and then Americans last.

  • David Ross

    Oh dear. You should have *known* you were going to attract Redeemers and the Hindutva crowd when you posted this…

    I tend to give people a chance to air whatever weird ideas come to mind; so I wouldn’t condemn the man for stating his case. The ‘web has quite a few black conservatives who are pretty “out there” (mostly on religion, more than politics, admittedly). I’d like to say this was the first time I’ve seen a full-on, straight-faced Confederate apologetic from one, but I can’t.

    I have to agree: this guy’s nothing more than a small-time attention seeker. No need for SPLC to get involved. Cue the “Barbershop” references 3… 2… 1…

  • Ajay Rathore

    It is same in India which is called caste system, which was and is better than the current system of casteless society.

  • ThomasJackson7

    This guy seems to know his stuff. I’ve heard of him before. Go on Youtube and you’ll find him. I don’t however agree that the Klu Klux Klan is STILL a force against violent reconstructionist rule. I think is a racist organization. At its conception, though, it was the only law of the land,(Read “Southern by the Grace of God”) and it did keep tabs on the racist, rapist, and lawless officials that were sent down to supress the South after the war. Cheers for him on some things, and think more about it on other things.

  • carter

    I think this is a tragic illustration of a man’s unique pathology. I generally think well of the SPLC but this article is not something that deserves wide spread dissemination. This man obviously has some very deep seated issues with both his background and the cultural net in which he was raised. I implore the SPLC to leave this one go…. Let this guy go through what he has to go through without the limelight of any media attention to his personal issues. How do you spell Stockholm Syndrome? This is not amusing….it’s quite sad.

  • Neon Maniac

    What I do find interesting is the notion that neo nazis, fascists then and now, and others along the fringes of american society are part of the radical right.

    Really, compare National Socialist policies and philosophy to the modern “liberal” or as I see it, statists. It’s always so easy to walk with contempt for those supposedly under you or even to embrace those people when they are not your neighbors.

    Do the research, from environmentalism, worker’s rights, government controlled media, government dictated anti poverty programs, anti smoking programs, trade, nationalism, illiberalism towards other’s viewpoints. It’s really amazing actually.

    All of this government control in the end actually contributes to dependency, hate between classes, and fosters and perpetuates this mentality.

    Sorry to upset you, just another crazy libertarian viewpoint.

  • Josef

    This article is tragically and hilarious absurd from start to finish.

    At least Clayton Bigsby was meant as a joke.

    What do I say about a guy who reads history and culture in a way that would make him property?

    All I can think of is, “I’m looking for some paint to sniff, what brand do you recommend?”

  • OilMonkey

    A real life Clayton Bigsby.

  • black sicilian

    I have respect for this black man. If all black men judged man by his merits and character, a flag or “racist” groups would not upset the black man the way it does today and has done since the beginning of time. As long as a confederate(s) does not intend on commiting a violent act on me or my family, I respect their views and culture.

  • umlando

    I just got finished reading a review of the Creationism Museum, and I’m not sure which was crazier.

  • D.J. Racist Ryke

    I’m perplexed. Is this man`s head backwards or what? Needless to say, he sounds like a puppet loon for the White Supremacists. I wonder if he is ashamed to be black?

  • Nancy Green

    He sounds like just the kind of ally the SCV deserves.