I am hearing and reading about protest to South Carolina’s removal of the replica of the battle flag of the Army of North Virginia, which most people erroneous believe is a replica of the Confederate flag. Protesters are saying southerners (white, of course) should be proud of our southern heritage.
I am certainly proud of mine! My great-great-grandfather farmed, but never owned slaves. My great-grandfather fought to regain his right to sell his farm and forest products in a free international market, which the northern blockade of the south eliminated. My grandfather stood up for negro victims of legalized injustice. My father did the same, as well as open the door of better employment for Negro victims of job discrimination. I am proud that all of my grandfathers paid their negro farmworkers as best they could.
I am proud that my parents were willing to work public jobs and farm to make ends meet in a southern economy always stacked in favor of special interests. I am proud of the way they provided food by gardening, just as our friends who lived in mill villages did. I am proud that my parents were able to, and helped others avoid predatory lenders, who have always had free license to exploit American workers regardless of race in the North and the South.
I am proud that my father stood up to the KKK, rather than yield to their intimidation. I am proud that my father prevented a “land-grab,” which Negro property owners still face today.
I am proud of southern negros in general, who sang “We Shall Overcome,” as they were attacked with fire hoses, trained dogs, and billy clubs. I am proud of the way they protested peacefully rather than erupt in rioting when negro children like Emit Till, Addie Mae Collins, Carol Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Denise McNair were murdered by white supremacist, and civil rights leader Medgar Evers, along with James Cheney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman were murdered for encouraging negros to vote.
I am proud that a southern man with a northern education was willing to sacrifice his life for the benefit of our nation – black and white, north and south. I am proud that we are gradually seeing his dream realized, and his race proving that “We Shall Over Come” meant harmonic cooperation, rather than “We Shall Take Over.”
Thank you for allowing me to express my pride,
Robert C. Currie Jr.