The story of a boy and his infatuation with the Rebel flag
The title of this one has me scratching my head a bit. Is it a Freudian slip, or simple mistake, or clever insult and dogwhistle? The “boy” of the title could be the author, or it could be Edgerton, with all the hateful connotations that would bring.
But Cousin Arthur wasn’t the only one to help me along. There was also H.K. Edgerton. Now, most folks don’t know of Edgerton. He’s a fringe player in the Confederate heritage movement, but he’s without a doubt its most curious member. He’s black.
I first met Edgerton during the summer of 2000. Dressed in a gray Confederate uniform and waving a Battle Flag, he was standing on the side of a street in downtown Greenville with a bunch of folks from the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white pride group. I spoke to Edgerton and was immediately charmed by him. I also thought he was out of his gourd.
See, Edgerton was once the president of the Asheville, N.C., chapter of the NAACP. He was ousted from his position when a photograph of him standing with two men with ties to alleged white supremacists ran in the Asheville Citizen-Times. In the image, all three are holding white napkins — each one folded into the shape of a triangle — to their foreheads. It was a thing of bizarre beauty, an image that was so shocking because it simply could not be predicted.
I spoke with Edgerton about his beliefs that all was well between blacks and whites before the Civil War and wrote an article about him and black Confederates. Later, I met up with him again as he began his long march from Asheville to Texas carrying the Confederate battle flag.
After meeting Edgerton and reading about Cousin Arthur and his “heritage not hate” brethren, it seemed to me there were only two types of folks who were slavishly devoted to the Rebel flag. On the one hand, you had bigots like my grandpa. And on the other, you had folks who believed in a fantasyland version of the Old South, one that was straight out of Walt Disney’s Song of the South.