The neo-Confederate movement isn't known for its racial diversity, but there long has been one dedicated black man willing to fight for the Southern cause: H.K. Edgerton.
The neo-Confederate movement isn't known for its racial diversity, but there long has been one dedicated black man willing to fight for the Southern cause: H.K. Edgerton. A constant fixture at protests in support of Confederate symbols, Edgerton at one point walked from his home in Asheville, N.C., to Austin, Texas, dressed all the while in Confederate gray and toting a battle flag.
In March, after being accused by white neo-Confederate colleagues of financial improprieties, Edgerton quit the fight and furled his flag.
Edgerton served for years as the lone member of the board of advisers of the Southern Legal Resource Center (SLRC), a position without pay or authority. In that role, Edgerton provided a thin defense against the charges of white supremacy that are regularly levied against SLRC Chief Trial Counsel Kirk Lyons, who was married at the Idaho compound of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations and has long had close ties to major racist figures.
Edgerton's apparent selflessness made him popular among neo-Confederates, particularly members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), a Southern heritage group that awarded him an honorary membership even though he did not have the requisite Confederate ancestors.
Now, Edgerton is more infamous than popular. Elijah Coleman, a prominent activist in the Georgia SCV, wrote a widely distributed E-mail in early March accusing Edgerton of selling hundreds of SCV-provided battle flags at a NASCAR event and pocketing the funds. Coleman also claimed that Edgerton was demanding huge sums for a new car, even after he was offered one costing $3,000.
"I began to see a new H. K. obsessed with money as he spoke of everyone ripping him off on past visits by him to Florida and other states. Money was the main thing on his mind," wrote Coleman. "I realized he was now in the heritage fight only for the money."
In response, Edgerton sent out an open letter announcing that he was leaving the movement after more than a decade and complaining of his treatment. Edgerton insisted that he received few funds from his compatriots, having selflessly given away his time and impoverished himself only to be called "a money grubber." Edgerton said he would shut down his neo-Confederate group, Southern Heritage 411, on April 14.
Lyons offered a halfhearted defense of Edgerton on the SCV's Southern Herald mailing list, calling him "a close friend." But Lyons also wrote that "the SLRC is not and has not been involved in any of H.K.'s travel or appearances for some time." Lyons added that Edgerton is no longer with the SLRC.
Though avowedly saddened to give up the cause, Edgerton did point proudly to the "historic H.K. Edgerton Shirt" produced by Dixie Outfitters as a high point of his neo-Confederate career, noting that he was "the first living person" represented in the firm's "Modern Confederate Hero Line."