H.K. Edgerton is on a long walk across Florida to show his support for the Confederate flag and for preserving Confederate monuments and memorials in Florida. He explains his position in this report from Two Egg TV’s Robert Daffin:
Marianna – We all have our strong core beliefs. For years I have tried to do what I could to support the right of the public to know, to speak and to be heard.
First Amendment rights are very important to me.
I was stunned this week when I saw news from Jacksonville that the Ku Klux Klan had turned out to protest an appearance by H.K. Edgerton.
If you aren’t familiar with Mr. Edgerton, let me give you the basics. He is an African-American who supports the Confederate battle flag and leaving Confederate monuments in place. He works hard and travels widely in support of his beliefs. His prominence has grown over time and he is currently engaged in a symbolic walk across Florida to oppose efforts to take down Confederate memorials.
Earlier this week, this Confederate battle flag waving black man was confronted by the Ku Klux Klan. To his surprise, protesters that had turned out to oppose his flag suddenly came to his assistance and surrounded him. They asserted that he had a right to fly his flag if he wished, taking a stand for free speech in the face of Klan members.
It was an odd moment. As I thought about it, I realized that whether we agree with Mr. Edgerton or not, we all have an obligation to make sure that American citizens are not harassed, intimidated or otherwise prevented from expressing their views.
I am a supporter of preserving all history, without regard to race, culture or results. I have written books that focused on American Indians, the War Between the States, the Seminole Wars and other topics. I have a new one coming this summer that gives attention to the free African-American colony that existed at Prospect Bluff on the Apalachicola River in 1814-1816.
Those who know me well know that I believe that there is something in history in which each of us can take pride, regardless of our race or culture. If Mr. Edgerton takes pride in Southern culture and the often ignored African-Americans who served in the Confederate armed forces, then I am fine with that and wish him well.
When I heard that he had been opposed by the Ku Klux Klan in Jacksonville, I was stunned and angered. I have long known that such hate groups were active in major Florida cities, especially Tampa. Journalists in those cities often like to point fingers at the small towns of our state when the real hate groups of Florida are active in their own backyards.
So, I decided to walk with H.K. Edgerton.
I met him at the Battle of Marianna monument in downtown Marianna today and we walked the two long blocks west to the Russ House Commons. People of all colors honked their horns, waved, snapped pictures or in some cases just looked confused. Everyone we met was kind and courteous. We spoke about the Battle of Marianna and the history of Jackson County.
I was proud of the way our community responded to Mr. Edgerton’s appearance. Marianna and Jackson County showed true hospitality in welcoming him. We had no disruptions from the Ku Klux Klan or anyone else, although the Marianna Police Department was nearby and ready in case of trouble.
There is much that is controversial about Mr. Edgerton’s views and some like what he has to say while others strongly oppose his statements. That is fine with me. Debate and discussion is healthy.
What is not healthy is when a hate group like the Ku Klux Klan tries to shut down someone’s right to speak through intimidation. The people of this area took a stand against the Ku Klux Klan today.
The death of Harper Lee on Friday (2/19/2016) took lovers of Southern literature by surprise.
She is best remembered, of course, for her monumental novel To Kill a Mockingbird. It is a story about coming of age in a small Southern town and is filled with memorable characters, good and bad.
Principal among these is a small town lawyer named Atticus Finch, who teaches his young daughter about the humanity of all people. The character is based on Lee’s own father, a small town lawyer named Amasa Lee.
The similarity of the real name Amasa to the fictional name Atticus is obvious.
Gregory Peck received an Academy Award for his portrayal of Atticus Finch in the movie based on Lee’s novel. A monument to the fictional lawyer can be seen on the grounds of the historic old courthouse in Monroeville, Alabama, the town that Lee called home for most of her life. (Note: See Peck as Atticus Finch in the clip from To Kill a Mockingbird at the bottom of this article).
It is a little known fact, however, that Amasa Lee – the “real” Atticus Finch – spent part of his boyhood on a farm just north of Chipley in the Florida Panhandle.
His parents, Cader A. Lee and Eufrasa Windam Lee, moved from Alabama to Florida in around 1893. Amasa was then thirteen years old.
The family settled on a small farm just north of Chipley but then across the line in neighboring Holmes County. Realignment of county boundaries, however, left the site within the limits of today’s Washington County.
Cader Lee was a homesteader and moved to Florida to take advantage of the opportunity to claim free land by establishing a home and farm on previously unclaimed lands. The site he picked is low and swampy, with Holmes Creek about one-half mile away to the west and Alligator Creek a short distance in the opposite direction.
The elder Mr. Lee obtained title to his property on March 8, 1894 when Homestead Certificate Number 10880 was approved by the land office in Gainesville. The teenage Amasa lived and worked on the 160-acre farm until he reached adulthood.
Cader and Eufrasa Lee eventually moved to Graceville in neighboring Jackson County, where their graves can be seen today at Marvin Chapel Cemetery. Amasa, however, returned to Alabama where he studied law and married Frances Cunningham. His youngest daughter – Nelle Harper Lee – was born on April 28, 1926.
The farm near Chipley eventually passed on to other owners and is marked by groves of planted pines along Carr Road today. No other trace remains of the boyhood home of Amasa Coleman Lee, the real Atticus Finch.
Watch Gregory Peck portray Atticus Finch in this clip from To Kill a Mockingbird: