By June 26, 2015 Read More →

We Are All Family in the Southland

In Southland America We Are All Family

In North Carolina, after a Confederate monument was vandalized former NAACP president and activist, H.K. Edgerton, took up a post in front of the statue.


In North Carolina, after a Confederate monument was vandalized former NAACP president and activist, H.K. Edgerton, took up a post in front of the statue, proudly holding a St. Andrews Cross flag.

“Black folks earned a place of honor and dignity with this flag; black folks and white folks in southland America are family,” Edgerton told WYFF. “I’m not going to blame it on a Yankee, because I’ve seen some Southern folk around here that are real questionable too, that don’t know anything about who they are and their families and the honorable people in the southland of America…That was my message when I walked to Texas, that was my message when I walked to the White House, and it’s my message still.”

I am a 10th generation southerner. My family roots wind through over three hundred years of southern history. They are fully entrenched in the Confederate lines of the Civil War, just as they are entrenched in the American lines of the Revolutionary War. I grew up with grandparents who lived through most of 20th century history. They grew up in the Great Depression and owned southern businesses during segregation. They treated everyone equally. They served any customer who came in and helped anyone who needed their help. They sent their daughter to one of the first desegregated schools in Nashville, Tennessee. It was a school that was ultimately bombed because of desegregation.

My grandmother was an avid reader and on her bookshelves included authors as varied as Albert Schweitzer and Louis Farrakhan. She owned every book Martin Luther King Junior ever wrote. I grew up listening to the stories of family history, relatives, and family friends. I heard them so many time from such a young age that while many of the folk within those stories were already passed from this world long before I was born, I still feel as though I knew them. Just as my grandparents kept a proud southern heritage alive in their stories, they also passed down the truth of a fundamentally unjust system of segregation and discrimination they had witnessed in their lifetime.

Pride in the incredible privilege of being born a Southerner with a long southern heritage, and the absolute fundamental belief that no one should ever be judged by the color of their skin, are not mutually exclusive concepts. They can, and have, gone hand-in-hand in southern families for generations. In fact, the further south you get, the more you see the visible truth of Edgerton’s words: “black folks and white folks in southland America are family.”

As a descendant of folks who kept history, honor, and truth alive from one generation to the next, I can walk into a Confederate cemetery and see pride in the Confederate flags that fly there and honor in the sacrifices of so many young men who fought for loyalty to their states and belief that government should be centered locally and not in Washington. After all, their grandfathers and great grandfathers fought another revolution years earlier, in part, because of the belief that government should be centered locally and not in London.

My grandmother lived long enough to meet the first of her four great-grandchildren. She didn’t blink an eye at the fact that he would also be bi-racial. She wanted him to be healthy. When she met him, she thought he was beautiful. No one else in my family batted an eye lash, either. As I look around at the faces of loved ones gathered for family dinners, I see faces that the rest of world would categorize into boxes labeled: black, white, hispanic, bi-racial, gay, or straight. That may be what the rest of the world sees, but all I have ever seen is my family. You see, in my family…in my very rich, diverse, proud southern family…the only labels that have ever counted are called: family, neighbor, friend, brother/sister in Christ.

For most families whose southern roots are long and strong, the issues you see being hotly debated in media circles today are issues that were sorted out and laid to rest generations ago, because in southeland America, we may be far from perfect, we may not all look alike, our family recipes may be as different as our accents, but we are all Southern and we are all family.

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