Weekend events kick off 127th Reunion

By Michelle T. Bernard

In a very historical location – the 1924 Courthouse – history lessons were given on the Civil War and the Confederate flag this past Saturday.
This event, History Saturday, was organized by the Capt. C.F. Connor Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans for the first time this year as part of the Soldiers Day Reunion week.

Numerous speakers presented at two different times in the Courthouse while outside the Confederate submarine, the C.S.S. H.L. Hunley, was on display, as were Confederate reenactors from the 28th NC Company C from Catawba County, the Sons of Confederate Veterans Mechanized Calvary canon representing the 2nd Battalion 4th Platoon, and a display of flags provided by John Ellis.

After an introduction by Capt. C.F. Connor Camp Commander Mark Nixon and History Museum of Catawba County Director Dr. Amber Clawson, Rev. Dwayne Tutt addressed the audience.

Tutt admitted that he was one of the people who was “uncomfortable” with the Confederate flag being displayed as part of the Soldiers Reunion Parade. The organization of History Saturday was done to help alleviate the concerns of those similarly ill at ease.

After a brief discussion about the history and economics of slavery and the Civil War, Tutt summarized that he used to think the Civil War was all about slavery but as he got older, he realized it was “all about money – on both sides.” But, according to Tutt, the Confederate flag had taken on a different spirit than it initially had.

“I want to let you all to know that I do get it – I get it,” said Tutt. “Unfortunately for you though, for a lot of people of African descent – all we see are those visions of that flag being used to terrorize our people. That’s unfortunate but it’s the truth.”

A historian from Monroe, John Ellis, shared how the Confederate flag was designed and also about the history of the Civil War. He also expressed his feelings that we needed to know the history of each other in order to properly understand the other.

“When you’re a veteran you learn to depend on the person next to you – it doesn’t matter if he’s black, brown or yellow,” Ellis said with tears in his eyes. “The South suffered tremendously. The black population has suffered tremendously.

“Slavery was a bad thing but we are almost enslaved today with our minds and I hope that somehow the next speakers that you will enjoy to hear from will get us to open our minds as we will hope they will open ours. So many times shaking hands and listening is the best thing you can come up with.”

Teresa Roane, an African American woman who at one time worked as an archivist at the Museum of the Confederacy, provided a presentation with evidence (in the form of military records) that African American individuals did fight for the Confederacy as soldiers carrying weapons, not always as cooks or musicians. One of the individuals was one of Roane’s ancestors.

“Unfortunately, we are dealing with a situation where people do not want to talk about this history,” said Roane. “And yet there is proof that these men and women existed.”

According to Roane, people will tell you that it is a myth that African Americans fought with the Confederate military.

Many African Americans did provide support to the army, which, according to Roane is important – that the military must have support to fight a war.

In addition to military records, Roane showed a picture published in Harper Weekly that showed “two Rebel Negroes shown through a field glass” on picket duty with muskets.

African American who served went to reunions, and if they couldn’t afford to go to the reunions there were white people who raised the funds for them to go, according to Roane.

“They were important, at one point in our history, we knew they existed,” Roane said. “But by the 1960s this information is swept under the rug. I guarantee there are people who look like me who have ancestors who fought in the Civil War but they are afraid to tell you because they don’t want to deal with the backlash and I can understand that.”

A Sons of Confederate Veterans member and pastor at Daniels Town Baptist Church, Rev. Creighton Lovelace gave a lively synopsis of relationship between Christianity and the South.

Another animated presentation was given by former NAACP president H.K. Edgerton who started out by leading the audience in a rendition of “Dixie” all the while waving a Confederate flag.

In his speech, Edgerton said that ignorance has lead to Civil War history being distorted in a malicious and self-serving manner – referring to it as “cultural Marxism.”

The Catawba County History Museum had special exhibits set up on the Civil War and the Soldiers Reunion.

Nixon estimates around 400 to 500 people attended the event, many more visited the outside displays than the inside speeches. He was disappointed that the local members of the NAACP did not attend because of the flag being on display.

“But having a Confederate history event without the Confederate flag would be like having a football game without a football,” said Nixon. “We will start planning for next year in January. For it to be the first one we’ve done, there were some kinks but overall I think it went very well.”

Sunday brought the Cruisin’ Car Show held around Courthouse Square and in the downtown district. There was musical entertainment, food and several hundred cars on display. The event was highly attended throughout the day.

On Tuesday, there will be a Soldiers Reunion Cornhole Tournament sponsored by Newton Parks and Recreation at 6:30 p.m. and Newton Recreation Department Parking Lot.

Also on Tuesday is Beach Music Night at 7:30 p.m. on the East side of the courthouse square with music provided by “The Embers.”