Saturday, April 26, 2008
I Attended A Portion Of The "Confederate Memorial Day" Ceremony
Today Is "Confederate Memorial Day".
The White folks put the sign out about 3 weeks ago in the Fayetteville GA town square that there would be a commemorative ceremony on April 26 at 7pm. I have said for the past 5 years that I would attend one of these events JUST TO LISTEN.
Clearly and with no doubt these people have an interest remembering the past than that which is present inside of me. I was not coming to pay tribute to their fallen heroes. I came to listen in to what they said and for understanding of their point of reference.
I pulled up to the town square and saw a woman reading the Confederate history upon a podium. For me seeing that flag that drew terror in many a Black man's heart I packed my Keltec .38 in my pocket just in case. I for one am one Black man who is happy that this pro-gun state of Georgia is on the verge of passing a law allowing me to make use of my concealed weapons permit in public parks.
As I walked up to the crowd of about 50 people, a good portion of them Civil War re-enactors I only drew a few quick glances. There were no other Blacks present - understandably. This is not as popular as an NAACP rally to Black folks. I was surprised that a woman in front of me gave me her printed program so that I could read about the sequence of events.
The woman on stage talked about the DIVERSITY of those who fought on behalf of the Confederate Army. She said that certain Native American tribes took up arms against the Yankee invaders. She stated that there were several Black regiments that fought on behalf of the Confederacy. (Side note - I recently saw a woman that had a bumper sticker on her car that said "Any working person who votes for the Republicans are like chickens voting for Colonel Sanders". Where as I don't agree with this claim it is certainly the case with Black folks who fought on behalf of those who had them in bondage). She did note that they should be sensitive to the feelings that some might have about their legacy but not ashamed of it none the less. She closed out by saying that "yours is a heritage to be proud of".
I just it. We have people who are indoctrinated in the sensibilities of the modern day attempting to re-write history to make their side a bit more appealing. I would have had more respect for her if she EXPLICITLY addressed the slavery challenge and the fact that I was seen as PROPERTY by her people. Of course - her speech was not written for me but instead for her ideological cohorts. To attempt to make the Confederacy diverse and inclusive when it was not just seems very intellectually dishonest to me. Just be real!!! You all were the faction of slavery.
As the session wound down the lady invited the crowd to take a walk up the street to the city cemetery for the second part of the program where they would recognize their Confederate war dead. I am not going to lie to you - as the re-enactors assembled with their grey uniforms and their Confederate Battle flag in tow I realized that if the time was 150 years ago with all of the symbols being present with me as the ONLY BLACK MAN around - I would likely be the center of attention because they would be lynching me!!
I saw a bunch of White folks carrying the Confederate flag up Hwy 54 to the cemetary which was about a block and a half away. I started to join them just to listen to them pay tribute to their ancestors. Then I thought - imagine me being photographed WALKING WITH THESE CONFEDERATES DOWN THE STREET? This might not be too good for my personal record. (Are you listening Barack Obama?)
As the crowd had departed I pulled out my camera and began to take pictures of the setup for use in this blog. I was not about to take pictures of the White folks while they were there. I am already walking on pins and needles. I was not going to provoke them. The audio/visual guy was the only one who remained. I asked him if he minded me taking pictures of their set up. He said no.
Then HE DID IT AGAIN!! He commenced to tell me about the ONE BLACK GUY who is a member of the Sons of Confederate Soldiers. First he asked me if I had any ancestors who fought on behalf of the Confederacy? I told him no I just wanted to listen to what they had to say. The funny thing is - he said to me "Yeah we usually have 'one guy' who comes in from out of state to speak to us about his heritage". I asked him "when you say this guy...is he a Black guy?". He told me "yes he is". (Damn - why not just make the point specifically? If I were not Black you would not have brought him up. This episode mirrored my conversation as I was walking into a State of Georgia sponsored banquet and saw a guy with a Confederate license plate on the back of his car. He told me that the flag was a symbol of pride to him. Then he told me about THE ONE BLACK GUY. To him I thought as I did today "OK THAT'S ONE!!! What about the millions of others who wanted nothing to do with you all based on your assaults on them?"
To the Confederate I say - I can respect the homage you have for your relatives. I can admit that about 6 years ago in going to my ancestral home in South Carolina and seeing all of the tombstones with my family name upon them, many which went back to the 1840's it was indeed a change to express pride and honor them for their linkage. While I will never accept their treatment of my seed as property and beasts of burden I can only respect the fact that they seek to honor their own family. Just enough with the "ONE BLACK CONFEDERATE" STORIES!!!
Based on my research on the subject of Reconstruction and the importance of technology as a labor savings mechanism I would say that if the South had repelled the Union forces out of its land and continued on as a new "Slave Nation" that it would have attempted to recover from the war, still using enslaved Africans as its main source of farm labor. It would have taken until about 1935 for the system of slavery to go on the decline regarding field hands. The introduction of mechanization and chemical treatment during this time would have created an imbalance in the demand for labor and the requirements for it to run a newly mechanized farm. Indeed personal servants would have been in use.
Thus it is my opinion that the South as its own nation would not have eliminated slavery and made Blacks equal. Instead they would have attempted to purge the excess Blacks who were beyond their necessities as laborers. I believe that they would have deported Blacks into the "United States" as a condition of their freedom. Slavery itself would have died out in the "Confederate States of America" as late as 1955, again with incremental rights for the personal servants who remained.
I plan to take a personal tour of the cemetery so that I can make note of the dates related to the deceased. I am just happy that today - I live in a time where I can feel confident enough to walk up to a gathering of Confederates and not fear being strung up on the closest tree. At the same time I had no aspirations to join their clan or show my thankfulness for their providing housing to my people in the past.