Letter to the Editor — Letter writers need a history lesson

Published 12:00 pm Friday, June 10, 2022

To the Editor:

Please allow me to respond to the two letters that appeared in your April 13 issue. The writers discussed the Confederate secession, the Civil War, slavery, the Confederate heritage and flag. The writers repeated points that I have been listening to and reading for over eighty years.

One writer stated that secession was caused by northern oppression, not slavery. Another suggested that people who think otherwise should do some research on secession and the Civil War.

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I lived among six former slaves born between late 1840s and late 1850s. I spent my first 13 years of life living next door to a former Bedford County slave. Her name was Alice Cunningham Johnson-Toms. Two doors away was a former Alleghany County slave, Lucy Madison, who told of being sold from an auction block. Her entire family was separated, and some family members never saw each other again. Close by were four other former slaves and possibly more, but these are the ones I knew best.

Historical references in my textbooks contradicted many of the points the letter writers made. I would suggest that these persons do some research. Start with the Confederate Constitution, which was generally a copy of the repugnant U.S. Constitution with just a few changes regarding slavery. The Confederate Constitution stated that any new state joining the Confederacy would abide under the same rules, thus allowing all to have slaves.

Another key document to back up this point would be the Inaugural speech of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stevens wrote the speech. The speech is known as “The Confederate Cornerstone Speech” or “The Confederate Declaration of Independence.”

In this speech, Vice President Stevens wrote that slavery was “a political, economic and spiritual gift to the superior race.” These documents show that in the South slavery was to be perpetuated at all costs and are the words of Confederate leaders. Common sense would lead most to know one simple fact. If the leaders say it is about slavery, it is about slavery. All these documents are available on the internet.

In reference to the Confederate flag not being a symbol of hate, my first experience with the Confederate flag was when the KKK threatened to kill two black children as they drove through my neighborhood. I have watched two KKK parades and listened to the Klan speakers. Many Black people view the Confederate flag as the Klan flag. Be it a lynching, or some demonstration, or just acts of intimidation, anything that is anti-Black, you usually see that flag.

Charles White Sr.