Ray McBerry, the longtime head of the Georgia chapter of the racist and secessionist League of the South (LOS), turned in his resignation this past Friday after being asked to quit the group’s board. In a long letter where he described loyally serving the league for 15 years, McBerry, sounding hurt, wrote that he had “willingly given thousands of hours” and “thousands of [his] own dollars” to the cause. Then he offered a few stinging criticisms of the group whose praises he once sang.
The spat apparently broke out after McBerry, a two-time failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate, set up his own far right outfit, Tenth Amendment Solutions (TAS), this past year to educate the public, as McBerry had it, on the importance of state’s rights. That mission is remarkably similar to the LOS’s, where state’s rights are a main emphasis, and TAS events regularly featured LOS speakers and distributed speeches by LOS leaders. Also, McBerry runs DixieBroadcasting, which features programs by prominent neo-Confederates, including many who serve in LOS leadership positions.
McBerry called the decision to ask him to quit the board, which he said was made without consulting him, “indicative of the kind of paranoia that will forever prevent the success of the League.” (His letter suggested that he had been booted off gthe board because LOS leaders saw TAS as directly competing with the LOS.) McBerry also accused the LOS’s president, Michael Hill, of being power- and money-hungry — ironic charges, given that the LOS incessantly attacks the so-called “Northern Leviathan” for exactly the same kind of “materialism,” to use Hill’s word.
“What it comes down to is that Dr. Hill, as the League’s national president, was afraid that a few dollars would go to some other place than to the League’s national office,” is how McBerry put it in his Oct. 1 resignation letter. McBerry also criticized Hill for deciding that “anyone who achieves success and popularity” is a threat and for placing “a higher priority on maintaining the small principality the League has built” than reaching the Southern masses.
“The truth is that I was bringing members to the League; I had not ‘taken’ any members from the League,” McBerry wrote. “I have often wondered why so many former League members, especially those in leadership positions, left the League,” McBerry said in closing. “I now understand why many of them have made that decision and why it appeared that the League had burned bridges with so many quality people over the last few years.”
E-mails requesting comment from Hill on McBerry were not answered.
During his two attempts to secure the GOP’s Georgia gubernatorial nomination, McBerry certainly did toe the LOS’ line, refusing to salute the American flag while tirelessly defending state’s rights. He was also attacked in the press for his position with the LOS, which has been listed as a neo-Confederate hate group for the past decade by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Among its many sins, the LOS thinks the South should be ruled by “Anglo-Celts” (meaning white people), opposes racial intermarriage, and defends slavery as “God-ordained.”
McBerry has had other disappointments this year. During the GOP primary, it was reported by The New York Times that he had his teaching certificate suspended in 2004 after findings by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission that he had conducted an inappropriate relationship with a student and deliberately misrepresented his actions to school investigators. He later resigned his teaching position. It was also reported that he had an affair with a former campaign manager. Since his primary loss, McBerry has concentrated his efforts on TAS and DixieBroadcasting, which currently advertises a show by longtime LOS activist Walter “Donnie” Kennedy.
It’s been a bad few weeks for the neo-Confederates. Besides this rift, in early September, the LOS’s longtime board member Jack Kershaw died at age 96. Kershaw was a hardcore segregationist who represented James Earl Ray following his conviction for the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Kershaw served from the beginning on the LOS’s board and the group had a foundation named after his wife, Mary Noel. Never shy about his racism, in 1998 Kershaw said: “Somebody needs to say a good word for slavery. Where in the world are the Negroes better off today than in America?”
And just this past week, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell put an end to that state’s tradition of calling April “Confederate History Month.” “One hundred and fifty years is long enough for Virginia to fight the Civil War,” the governor told an academic conference, where he apologized again for omitting any mention of slavery from his proclamation earlier this year of Confederate History Month. McDonnell had quickly reissued the proclamation last April with a new reference to the “abomination” of slavery.
The text of McDonnell’s original resolution was largely written by another neo-Confederate group, the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), which has been embroiled for years in a vicious internal conflict for control between members demanding the group explicitly denounce racism and expel racists and those who disagree. LOS members have been prominent in those battles.
The SCV is clearly not happy with the governor. Bragdon Bowling, a former leader of the SCV’s Virginia chapter and long its spokesman, accused the governor of selling out the state’s confederate descendants. “I think it’s cowardly of him,” Bowling told The Washington Post. “He didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to stand up to his political enemies or the media.”