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by Bob Harrison
1st Sergeant, 37th Texas Cavalry, Company B, CSA
While I fully respect his right as a US citizen and alumnus of Ole Miss to have and voice his opinions, he thoroughly misses the real point in this whole situation. Ole Miss Rebels represent a legacy of truth and honor that spans many ethnicities who came together for a common cause. The recent flag vote in MS clearly shows where the people stand regarding the Battle Flag and CSA heritage in general. The people, including many BLACK PEOPLE, let it be known that the MS State flag and thusly the Battle Flag was a flag of the people, WHITE AND BLACK, and they were not going to tolerate outsiders trying to tell them what they can do or should believe. Being that you are a college graduate I would have hoped for more understanding and knowledge of history, especially MS history, but apparently you do not possess such.
During the siege of Vicksburg many black southerners, of their own FREE WILL defended Vicksburg against Union General US Grant. Native Mississippians Andrew and Silas Chandler gallantly went off to war to FIGHT for MS and the CSA against the invading US Armies. Silas, a FORMER slave went to war with his childhood friend Andrew Chandler and saved Andrew’s leg from amputation. The descendants of these two proud and honorable men are still close to this day. One of Silas’s living descendants, Bobbie Chandler lives in MS and speaks very PROUDLY of his ancestor’s accomplishments to this day. Many black southerners all over the country openly show great pride in their confederate heritage and justifiably so. Nelson Winbush, a proud BLACK CONFEDERATE proudly speaks of his ancestor Private Louis Nelson who rode with General Nathan Bedford Forrest, whose name I am sure you recognize. There is Dr. Emory Emerson of Dallas Texas who was unceremoniously dumped from the Civil War memorial ceremony in DC a few years ago. These are NOT opinions, but HISTORICAL FACTS coming from the ancestors of these great Southern patriots themselves. Even Federal Record graciously speaks of the accomplishments of Confederates of Color.
It was sad enough to see Ole Miss succumb to the anti-Southern agenda of the “politically correct” crowd. However, now you actually suggest that the playing of “Dixie” is “bad company.” I have never seen or heard of a statement of more ignorance than that. What needs to happen is for white and Black Mississippians to come to the table of brotherhood and share their thoughts, feelings and history. Perhaps hate groups such as the KKK have adopted the Battle Flag for their agenda. However, it does not, and will not EVER take away form its original and TRUE meaning. It is a flag of many people of many ethnicities coming together to save their country from an invading army and government that did not respect nor understand. If more blacks would embrace ALL of their history instead of allowing outside groups and agendas rule what they think and believe, they would realize that by defending the Battle Flag and all things representative of the CSA they defend their own history.
Before you suggest that I am some “white supremacist, let me assure you nothing could be further from the truth. I am a devoted BLACK Confederate historian and descendant of TWO Virginia slave families based in the Richmond area. While I was raised in the Valley Forge, PA area, I was raised Southern by a strong willed “Big Mama” who taught me to “go for your destiny but never forget your history.” My own mother spoke of fireside chats with her grandfather and the other grandkids about the efforts of Black Confederates. I am also a 1st Sergeant with the 37th Texas Cavalry [reenactors]. We are a gathering of professional and amateur historians dedicated to scholarly research and documentation on the history of Confederates of Color and Confederates in general. We have amassed well over 100 pages of text and picture based FACTS that all come with documentation. We mostly use NORTHERN sources so they can not be dismissed so easily. If you possess the courage to be objective and to see with both eyes, I cordially invite you to view our web site at http://www.37thtexas.org. We do not tell you how to think or view the information presented but to view with an open mind.
Your labeling the song Dixie as being “childish” is in itself childish and very ignorant to say the least. I strongly suggest you read the works of such great Black Historians as DR Edward Smith of American University, Dr Walter Williams of George Mason University, and Dr Ervin Jordan of the University of Virginia before you speak of this subject so blindly again. It is understandable why SOME folks bristle at the sight of anything Confederate or listening to the singing of Dixie. HOWEVER, hiding history is not the answer either. Blacks and whites must be willing to LISTEN to each other and embrace ALL of their history and realize that it is a history that embraces ALL of us. In the words of Dr. Edward Smith of American University, “History is ugly and hurtful at times. However if you wish to remain true to the profession ALL of it MUST be told.”
What I can not understand is why there is not equal criticism of the US flag and its “patriotic songs.” Have you heard of the “Trail of Tears?” Ask Native Americans about the true meaning of the US flag. Speak to descendants of the Irish immigrants who were greeted with bigotry when they arrived in the US. In Boston, MA alone businesses told the Irish, “Irish and dogs not welcome” or “Irish need not apply.” Also, it was the US FLAG that flew over slave ships, NOT the CSA Battle Flag. It was the North, particularly the states of Connecticut, Rhode island, and New York which financed and conducted the whole slave trade. While we are on the subject, why not protest Portugal and its flags and symbols it was a Portuguese slave ship that first brought slaves to Jamestown, VA. Would I suggest people actually go out and do this. Certainly not. Why? Because like your attack on the Beloved song “Dixie” it is RIDICULOUS. Like it or not the singing of Dixie, the flying of the Battle flag, and the embracing of CSA History heritage is NOT a white or black thing. Its a SOUTHERN thing!
In Memory of Silas Chandler (MS), Henry “Dad” Brown (SC), and Bill Yopp (GA)… Black Confederate and PROUD!
1st Sergeant Bob Harrison