At the recent Graham County fair parade, I fortunately did not have to follow the poop of the horses of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans. I was offended that our fair committee accepted this mounted group that is still reliving the Civil War. It already feels like we are in another civil war. We didn’t need to be goaded by this group who want to rewrite history. The Confederate flags that followed on recreational vehicles magnified the white supremacy associated with this group.
My second-great-grandfather died fighting for the Confederacy at the Battle of Prairie Grove in Arkansas. He was in Bass’ Company H, 20th Texas cavalry. In doing ancestry, I’ve thought about him and the young family he left behind. His death probably changed many lives that actually trickled down to me. Those times didn’t have social media or twenty-four-hour news, but hate was generated enough to kill seven-hundred-thousand men and boys.
What happened after the Civil War? The losers didn’t just lose their slave labor, but they had to look at becoming patriots of the United States of America again. My ancestors moved on with their lives and several served in the United States Army during World War II. Even Robert E. Lee acknowledged he lost and went on with his life.
Jim Crow laws followed the reconstruction after the Civil War. These laws made ”slaves” out of free Blacks in the south. These laws set in motion a mass migration of Blacks, six million between 1915 and 1970. Southerners finally put down their whips and hanging ropes when they realized they didn’t have enough workers. They tried different schemes to stop Blacks from leaving. I grew up in Oklahoma City with it’s Jim Crow laws and saw it first hand; Blacks in the back seat of the bus, white only restrooms and water fountains, Blacks better be on their side of town after sundown.
Blacks still faced prejudice wherever they moved like they still do today, but they didn’t have to step out of the way of a white person, and they could go into almost any place that a white could go. And they didn’t have to fear coming upon a black body hanging from a tree.
Fleeing Blacks probably missed the slower life of the south. They left behind family they loved with roots going back to 1611 when the first slaves from Africa arrived.
Do the Sons of the Confederate Veterans realize that they represent the repression and cruelty to Black Americans during Jim Crow that forced them to leave? That’s why the Confederate flag is still associated with racism. We are all equally American no matter our color. You can’t rewrite that.
I miss Robert H. Brown who died far from home at age 33 in 1862. His DNA is part of me. I am sad for all those Confederate soldiers who died and were misled to the end. They were completely outnumbered, but pride and lies kept them fighting.
Sons of the Confederate Veterans, you really did look sharp in your grey uniforms and beautiful horses in the Graham County fair parade. I suggest you find a group of Union reenactors and do the war all over again in some green park. It would be great entertainment. In the meantime, let our Confederate ancestors rest in peace and put away your flags.
And Graham County fair parade committee, be more thoughtful when you decide on entries.
Paula Price lives in Safford