One rebel flag fan changes his stripes, another doesn't

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A few weeks ago, I reported that black Confederate flag supporter H.K. Edgerton had given up his lost cause, namely convincing folks that the Southland of yesteryear was some bizarre Song of the South wonderland where whites and blacks got along just fine.

Well, to paraphrase the Dude, I wasn't privy to all the new shit.  The Anderson Independent-Mail reports that H.K. is still wearing Confederate gray and once again his a march.

“This flag has nothing to do with hate,” Mr. Edgerton said of the starred red, white and blue St. Andrew’s Cross battle flag he carried. “It’s the flag of Southern heritage, black and white.”

The 58-year-old former head of the NAACP chapter in Asheville left his city Oct. 20 to recreate the 1,600-mile “March across Dixie” in which he tramped to Austin, Tex., in 2002. He marched specifically to protest the removal of plaques honoring the Confederacy from the Texas statehouse.

But as arduous as the march to Texas will be, it apparently pales in comparison to the suffering inflicted upon Edgerton by NASCAR.

“I wish I could report that after five years all my suffering had been vindicated,” Mr. Edgerton said. “But it hasn’t. Not when you have organizations like NASCAR that have banned our flag.”

Brian France, chief executive officer of that racing organization, banned the flag in 2006 from any official NASCAR use or on any licensed product. Separating NASCAR from the Confederate flag, with its racist associations, he said, was necessary to increase the sport’s popularity among minorities and women.

It is not from blacks that he draws the most fire for his stance, Mr. Edgerton said, but from whites.

“Northern white people,” he said.

Speaking of Confederate flag supporters, Maurice Bessigner has decided to take down the Confederate battle flag :

At about half of his dozen restaurants, Bessinger has replaced the better-known Confederate battle flag with its red background, blue cross and white stars with the less recognized and perhaps less controversial first flag of the Confederacy - a banner with two red stripes, a white stripe and a blue square with a circle of white stars.

The new flag, which resembles the U.S. flag, better honors his ancestors who fought for the South in the Civil War, Bessinger said. The Confederate battle flag will remain at the other restaurants, he said.

But anyone who thinks the change in banners shows the self-proclaimed "Barbecue King" has softened his views on the flag or race - Bessinger refused to serve blacks at his restaurant until 1976 when the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in - better think again.

"I'm not backing down from nothing. I'm still flying the Confederate flag," Bessinger said. "I've come to realize that I should fly the flag of my ancestors, which is the first national flag. That was the soldiers' flag."

True respect, publicity stunt, or the actions of a bitter old man whose business empire has seen better days?

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