Not too long ago I suggested that H.K. Edgerton’s performance is geared to and best received by white Southerners, who find vindication in his narrative of slavery as a benign institution and the peaceful co-existence of the races during the antebellum period and through the war into Reconstruction and beyond. Today I learned that H.K. is going to retrace his steps on this 10th anniversary of his famous trek across the South.
Now, on the tenth anniversary of his original sojourn, he’s preparing to do it all again because, he says, “We are in the middle of the hundred and fiftieth anniversary observance of the War Between the States and it is nothing but one big propaganda tirade against the Southland of America. The official party line is that the whole cause of the war was slavery and it either covers up or distorts the whole great story of how these two races really lived side by side. So I’m gonna tell the truth the way I did ten years ago, all the way across the South, one step at a time”
No doubt, we will be treated to the same antics that can be found on numerous posts on this blog. Don’t look for H.K. in the black community or doing living history programs in predominantly black schools. If anything, we’ve seen the limits of his reach and it is squarely within that small group of white Americans, who for whatever reason, cling to a Lost Cause narrative about slavery and race relations. This will likely be his final hurrah given his age. Don’t look for anyone in the black community to carry the colors forward for H.K. As we all know the vast majority of African Americans have been rightfully dismissive. We should also keep in mind, however, that there really isn’t a significant white audience waiting to be entertained by these modern-day minstrels. It’s a mark of just how far we’ve come.
A clear sense of his popularity can be found in his plea for shoes.
“I bad need some new walking shoes,” he says, “but good ones cost money. If anybody wants to help, they can go to Southern Heritage 411’s website [above], and God bless them.”
And just in case you were wondering, Southern Heritage 411 is not a non-profit.