December 6, 2007 will go down as a day I will likely never forget.
I was driving down Texas Street in Bossier City when I stumbled across something odd. I noticed a man walking down the street in a Confederate uniform, a Confederate flag hanging from the pole strung over his shoulder. He walked with a strut, and seemed pleased that he was drawing so much attention.
Understand that this behavior is not unheard of in the South. Driving through my neighborhood, I can see the “stars and bars” hanging from garage walls and plastered to license plates. However, this man walking down the street was a different case.
He was black.
Although the Confederate flag has its defenders, much of our population regards it as a deliberate, public indication of racism. I must admit that, much of the time, that is an accurate assessment.
I do know quite a few proud Southerners who do not have a racist bone in their body, but still display the Confederate flag either on their t-shirts, hats, or truck windows as a celebration of their Southern heritage.
I also know a few people for whom their is a distinct correlation between their deeply-rooted racism and their love for the Confederate flag.
Naturally, one wouldn’t expect to find an abundance of black men and women who flamboyantly sling a Confederate flag over their shoulders and make bold declarations about their Southern heritage.
H.K. Edgerton is that rare anomaly: a black man with a peculiar message centered around the defense of the “cross of St. Andrew.” I was predictably caught off-guard.
I’ve gotten a bit off track…
I chuckled and shook my head at first as I passed Mr. Edgerton, but after driving about 100 yards past him, I realized that I had my camera handy (of course), and I would absolutely kick myself in the buttocks later on if I didn’t take advantage of that rare opportunity.
I turned around, tracked him down, and hopped out of my car with my camera in hand. I said, “Sir, I have to ask you something. First of all, can I please take your picture? Second, what in the world are you doing?”
He agreed, posed for me, and started chatting me up, filling me in on what he was doing. Long story short, I ended up spending the next 45 minutes with him. I drove him back to his car (he had walked further than he intended to), joined him in McDonald’s, and recorded an interview in which I basically just allowed him to speak his mind, stopping to ask him questions only four or five times.
He was absolutely an intriguing character.
As he spoke, his eyes would focus on nothing, an empty gaze peering off into the distance. He would pause, squint, and pontificate on all things Southern. As people would pass by, he would say hello and smile, even when they weren’t looking at him in the first place. His vocabulary was extensive, and he spoke with confidence on issues that I quickly sensed were covered many, many times.
I listened as he pontificated on issues such as corporal punishment, the slave trade, Al Sharpton & Jesse Jackson, and other hot-button issues. I will admit to feeling very awkward a time or two. But shouldn’t I have felt awkward? After all, I was sitting in a McDonald’s booth with an African-American wearing a Confederate uniform.
I didn’t agree with him on everything that he said (I won’t go into details about the entire conversation – I might post the audio later), but I did have a good time doing something totally different with an hour of my afternoon. I could tell he had a flair for self-promotion and knew how to draw attention (he was on the local news that night), but I do believe he is genuinely passionate about his cause; it would be hard to argue against that.
If you want to know more about him, check out his web-site, or Google “H.K. Edgerton.” You’ll find plenty of interesting results.