No, That’s Not H.K. in the Background

I apologize for not being able to offer a more appropriate post title, but I am not sure what this is. Perhaps you can tell me.

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

Purchase your copy today!

68 comments… add one
  • Arleigh Birchler May 24, 2014 @ 7:11

    It is interpretive dance

  • An May 23, 2014 @ 19:41

    Just a reminder, this is a volunteer group of ladies performing a hymn and a memorial service for veterans!!!

  • Julian Mar 10, 2014 @ 16:34

    If this thread is not dead may I also post a link to a major arthouse film, Amazing Grace, 2006, that some of your readers may not have seen. It tells some of the stories about the hymn and the writer of its lyrics, John Newton as listed above – as part the story of the late 18th/early 19th century abolition movement in the UK and Sir William Wilberforce – the film’s hero – this is the official USA site

    The film is well regarded and I would recommend it – many people see in it that stately formality and lushness of classic British film and TV – skilled performances, especially character acting in minor characters, as well as great historic costumes and settings. American critics suggest that it was a throwback to the serious film biographies of great men from the 1930s and 1940s – it also has a couple of touches of what one could perhaps call post-colonial overdramaticising and factoids – sometimes the fictions come from both sides – that increasingly thread through the growing/ongoing corpus of films on racial politics of the 18th and 19th century – possibly to create dramatic impetus and also probably because interpretations of history are also/always are portraits of our own era, our fears, our hopes, deflecting and exploring – even immaturely fetishizing – our collective/societal guilts and the whole repositioning of the humanities and the Anglo-European tradition in light of a rapidly changing and globalising world

    It sits in my mind with Spielberg’s Amistad in aesthetics and approach

    • Kevin Levin Mar 10, 2014 @ 16:46

      Great. Thanks so much for the links.

  • Julian Mar 9, 2014 @ 6:23

    Well Kevin, after years of anonymously reading your blog, I am compelled to jump in – you have come up with something that really takes the cake and deserves to be remarked upon. Christian dance or Christian ballet is a very popular artform in the US – and perhaps more so in the former CSA – it often features costumes that reference the romantic ballet era of 1830-1870 – that of course overlaps with the dreamy days before Uncle Billy set fire to everything – but are more covered up and do not have the decolletee neckline that was acceptable then but not now to some conservatives. A lot of mothers do not like their daughters to wear the figure revealing costumes seen in conventional dance and ballet class. Did you note that the same ladies were dancing at the Olustee memorial in a youtube video. I do wonder what all those dead boys – often mere adolescents – commemorated at these memorials and cemeteries would make of such a sight if they could see it. The public construct of the past may and can well part company with the actual culture of the past.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 9, 2014 @ 6:58

      Hi Julian,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment on this post. It’s something that I know very little about. Hope you will jump in again.

  • Ann Aug 29, 2013 @ 12:56

    Amazing Grace is a spiritual song about redemption and God’s love, in whatever circumstance. A beautiful, wholesome, uplifting message in the age it was written (many years before the WBTS era) all the way to the present. Liturgical dance has been around for a long time as well, used as a prayer to God. I am a minister, and the above was performed at a Memorial Service I attended to honor American Veterans that were buried on the grounds. (I did not preside, just a guest) It was in an old cemetery that many of those in attendance had cleaned up and were painstakingly restoring. Many War Veterans are buried there, including WBTS and WWI. War Between the States Veterans were made American Veterans by an Act of Congress. With respect, criticizing people, any people, for having a memorial service for American Veterans seems in very poor taste. I don’t agree with many/any of our wars, but I certainly respect people honoring American Veterans, and think it very bad form to criticize them or the way they choose to pray in sincerity. The black man in the front is a descendant of a black confederate soldier and a member of the SCV. He was there presenting a program honoring his American Veteran ancestor, that was why he was standing in the front of the pavilion, he was a presenter, and just stepped back to allow room for the dance. The dance was simple, certainly, but respectful & reverent in the somber setting. Hauntingly beautiful, like an old familiar prayer. Actually the beautiful part, was the simplicity. It felt like… going home. The ladies that do this, as I understand it from speaking with others in attendance, volunteer at Memorials and do their liturgical dances to honor Veterans using their particular form of prayer, liturgical dancing. One of the ladies evidently also participates in the program where no Veteran should be buried alone, and attends Veterans burials when there is no family. I don’t know what the group that does this is called, but it seems very kind to me. The black Confederate SCV soldier brought the Georgia Flag as his Veteran ancestor lived in Georgia, and it displays a piece of the flag his ancestor fought under. He brought it as a tribute/Memorial to his American Veteran Great Grandfather. I believe the man/descendant was also a Veteran. It was a very patriotic event. Instead of having a Bar B Q or going to the beach, many of the people at the service (that the majority of you have so harshly judged or criticized) had spent their Saturdays cleaning up the overgrown cemetery, because it had been the burial place of Veterans, American Veterans. They had a tug on their hearts to do something about it’s condition, and they did. Then they came together to have a Memorial service. That is why I attended. The ageless song Amazing Grace felt very appropriate as a reminder of the horrible toll of war through the ages, and in spite of all of that, God’s redemptive grace.
    The event felt nothing like the ugly way many of you have portrayed it. In all respect, your unkindness does not diminish the kindness of the people at the event who took their time (I am not included in this) to clean a cemetery and hold a service thereby honoring many American Veterans. I attended this event, and have read most of the above comments. I found kindness and sincerity in the former, and mostly bitterness, hatred and judgment in the latter.

    • Betty Giragosian Aug 29, 2013 @ 16:21

      I happen to agree with Ann. This was a religious memorial service, and now we have found just why the African American man was standing there. His ancestor was being honored. There were really so many cruel remarks, some downright vicious. This was a service that should have been free from remarks such as were recorded,and even your editorial was rather hurtful, Kevin It should have been left alone.

      • Kevin Levin Aug 29, 2013 @ 16:44

        This was a service that should have been free from remarks such as were recorded,and even your editorial was rather hurtful, Kevin It should have been left alone.

        Oh, please.

        • Betty Giragosian Aug 29, 2013 @ 17:23

          The entire article was written with a sneer.

          • Kevin Levin Aug 29, 2013 @ 17:33

            Apparently, we interpret this video differently.

            • Ann Aug 30, 2013 @ 20:13

              Volunteer ladies were offering a liturgical dance to a beloved hymn to honor American Veterans at a Memorial Service.

              • Kevin Levin Aug 31, 2013 @ 1:55

                That just so happened to feature a black man dressed in Confederate uniform. Now, if you don’t want to comment on this I suggest you move on. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

                • Ann Aug 31, 2013 @ 4:18

                  Who was honoring his American Veteran ancestor.

                  • Kevin Levin Aug 31, 2013 @ 4:20

                    His American veteran ancestor from what war? The Civil War? Union or Confederate?

                    • Ann Sep 3, 2013 @ 18:09


                      You may have noticed that your comments are no longer being approved because you insist on saying the same thing over and over. Thanks for your interest.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 29, 2013 @ 16:43


      What is your evidence for the following claim?

      The black Confederate SCV soldier brought the Georgia Flag as his Veteran ancestor lived in Georgia, and it displays a piece of the flag his ancestor fought under. He brought it as a tribute/Memorial to his American Veteran Great Grandfather.

      Whose “unkindness” are you referring to in your comment? I posted the video with a question re: the presence of a black man wearing a uniform. I appreciate your comment, but you have not really addressed this issue beyond mere speculation.

      • Ann Aug 29, 2013 @ 19:22

        Hatred, division, and malice are sadly alive, tragically. I will pray for you. Your heart appears hardened, closed, so angry. God is love and can help you to love your neighbor! And believe in them, no matter the color of their skin!
        It is heartbreaking to watch an innocent Veteran and his family be dishonored. Perhaps it is racially motivated, you might consider seeking guidance for your anger and suspicion of this sincere person of color.
        I believe with all my heart in this honorable man, and in his sincerity.
        And I will defend him with my last breath. I have stated that I have witnessed that he is a sincere and honest man, honoring his family. To discredit him with out first hand knowledge is disrespectful to him! And irresponsible.

        • Kevin Levin Aug 30, 2013 @ 1:38

          I will pray for you.

          Thanks, Ann. I will do the same for your.

          • Ann Aug 30, 2013 @ 20:31

            The video is of Volunteer ladies offering a liturgical dance to a beloved hymn to honor American Veterans at a Memorial Service.

        • The other Susan May 24, 2014 @ 22:10

          Ann, if you look into “black confederate” history at all you will see that the few slaves who did carry arms againt their country were also carrying them againt their own race, they are recorded as calling union soldiers “upidy” and they “don’t know their own place” etc. Their stories are very tragic. The rest of us would like to quietly acknowledge that they were doing the best they could with the situation the were in. If you want to honor them for that then, well, we will be praying for you. We much rather you acnowleged Frederick Douglas or some other historical figure. If you still can’t get your head arround why it would be shocking to like such a character go watch Django unchained. But frankly I think you know how shocking it is and are mearly toying with us.

      • John C Hall Jr May 24, 2014 @ 4:45

        To a Southerner the image of a black man in a Confederate uniform along with his southern brothers and sisters is no big deal. It is a part of the Southern culture. To the outsider it appears as something of an abomination as the whole argument of the invasion of the Southern States by the northern army to free the blacks does not quite fit. In Georgia we had a black man who always joined us at rallies and events. He was not HK. He was eddie page. He was very passionate about the South and being from the region. We all accepted eddie and to have him a part of our events was no big deal. His confederate uniform was actually the band uniform of his high school in Atlanta which celebrated Dixy. So thanks for posting the video and I hope this helps explain why we just see this in a different light than those not from the South.

        • Kevin Levin May 24, 2014 @ 4:59

          His confederate uniform was actually the band uniform of his high school in Atlanta which celebrated Dixy.

          Fascinating. Thanks for the added information.

  • Woodrowfan Jun 26, 2013 @ 6:28

    Spinning in her grave, but very skillfully…

  • R.P. Collins May 19, 2013 @ 11:16

    Just wanted to point out that the “Confederate flag” in the video is actually the 1956 Georgia state flag. Far from being a relic of the Confederacy, the 1956 flag was adopted mainly as a show of “massive resistance” to the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown decision overturning racial segregation. See the New Georgia Encyclopedia for an account of this flag, other Georgia flags, and the prolonged political battle that finally gave Georgia its current flag in 2004.

    The Rebel flag is a nuanced symbol that doesn’t provoke me half as much as this miserable, pseudo-historical 1956 flag, which I was unfortunate enough to be born under. It’s saddening to see Georgians continuing to delude themselves that there is anything the least bit honorable about what was always meant as an unambiguous symbol of white supremacy.

    • Kevin Levin May 19, 2013 @ 11:35

      I knew the Confederate flag had been incorporated into different state flags as a symbol of “massive resistance” but I didn’t notice that this was the 1956 Georgia state flag. Thanks for pointing it out.

    • Billy Bearden Jun 25, 2013 @ 16:46

      New Georgia Encyclopedia LIES.
      Here is just 1 exposed FYI.

      Here is what NGE says Denmark Groover said:
      “Groover had repeatedly denied that the 1956 change was racially motivated. Now nearly seventy-nine and dying of cancer, he admitted that anger over the federal government’s support of integration had indeed been a factor and called on Georgia legislators to put the flag issue to rest.”

      Here is what Denmark Groover actually said:
      “I presented the matter to the House, and because of the opposition, I probably used some rhetoric indicating that the new flag was to symbolize our defiance of the action of the federal judiciary on matters of race.”

      ‘Probably’ does not equal ‘ admission’

      Of course in sworn testimony in Coleman vs State of Georgia, Exhibt A, March 9, 1993 Denmark Groover stated ““But those who now say that the legislature was obsessed with the matter of segregation to the exclusion of all other matters know not of what they speak…”

      • Pat Young Jun 26, 2013 @ 2:59

        How is that not an admission? If George Zimmerman told police “I probably shot that boy because he was black” we would all understand that as an admission.

        • Billy Bearden Jun 27, 2013 @ 6:28

          However, we already know what Denmark Groover said in 1955 – in fact here is what all the main players had to say about the 1956 state flag:

          What is now commonly referred to as the “56 Flag” was created by a suggestion from Atlanta attorney John Sammons Bell, then-Chairman of the State Democratic Party, attorney for the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG), and later Judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals. His desire was to “forever perpetuate the memory of the Confederate soldier who fought and died for his state”, because, as a young boy, he attended reunions of the old Confederate Veterans with his Grandfather, and learned the Battle Flag was a soldiers’ flag.

          Representative Denmark Groover argued 1879 flag
          never had enough meaning for him when he was a boy and that the new flag
          “would replace those meaningless stripes with something that has deep meaning in
          the hearts of all true Southerners”

          Senator Jefferson Davis of Cartersville, also argued that the state should be entitled to adopt the new flag, because “Georgia suffered more than any other state in the Civil War and endured a scorched earth policy from the mountains of Tennessee to the sea.”

          Although the historical facts are out there that plainly refutes this, truth means little for those with anti Confederate agendas. Concerning those who claim that the flag was “… designed as a last desperate grasp of defiance against integration.” Judge John Sammons Bell said, “Absolutely nothing could be further from the truth … every bit of it is untrue.” He further stated,”Anybody who says anything to the contrary is wrong or perpetuating a willful lie.”

          Former Governor Ernest Vandiver said
          “I can assure you that there was no discussion of segregation or of the U.S. Supreme Court. All that was discussed was the coming centennial of the Civil War and this flag was meant to be a memorial to the bravery, fortitude and courage of the men who fought and died on the battlefield for the Confederacy. More Americans died in that war than any other war in the history of America, before or since.”

          On July 5th, 1992, the Atlanta Journal Constitution released the results of their own investigation into the flag change of 1956: “There is little written record of the 1956 Legislature and no audio record. News stories about the change were few. In none of our research did we find any record of a stated connection between changing the flag and opposition to desegregation rulings.”

          Denmark Groover went on to say:
          “To now conclude that the flag was adopted primarily as a symbol of segregation is justified only in the minds of those who, for their own purposes, would teach one segment of our population to hate another because of the faults of their ancestors. “
          In 1993, James Andrew Coleman filed a Federal Lawsuit against then Governor Zell Miller over the 56 Flag. Mr Coleman lost the suit and the flag remained, but once again Denmark Groover stepped up to the plate, and in his deposition under oath he stated ” I have no personal knowledge which would dispute the purely historical motives which were expressed then and since by the sponsors and others involved with the legislation when it was introduced in the Senate. While I cannot say that the Supreme Court’s rulings regarding desegregation played absolutely no role in my decision to support the bill in the House, I can say that segregationist sentiment was not the overriding or even a significant factor in my vote concerning the new flag, or, based on personal observation and knowledge, in its ultimate adoption by the House….”

          On January 3rd, 1996, U.S. District Judge Orinda D. Evans dismissed the lawsuit against the Flag of Georgia by James Andrew Coleman by stating:
          “There simply is no evidence in the record indicating that the flag itself results in
          discrimination against African-Americans”

          Georgia Assistant Attorney General Ray Lerer said at the time:
          “The flag in and of itself does not discriminate and does not create a disparate impact” .

          On Thursday, September 26th, 1996, during the annual Carter Town Hall Meeting at Emory University, Former Georgia Governor, Former United States President and Nobel Prize winner Jimmy Carter stated;
          “ We should take the attitude that this (1956) flag is not racist in nature, and the fact that the flag does play a major role in Southern history is a legitimate historic recognition”

          • Kevin Levin Jun 27, 2013 @ 6:35

            Pat and Billy,

            I have no problem if you want to continue this thread, but please let’s keep the discussion focused on the issue at hand and not on the Martin Trial.

            Thank you.

    • Billy Bearden Jun 25, 2013 @ 16:52

      The New Ga Encyclopedia states :
      “The entire 1956 legislative session was devoted to Governor Marvin Griffin’s platform of “massive resistance” to federally imposed integration of public schools. In this charged atmosphere, legislation to put the Confederate battle flag on Georgia’s state flag sailed through the General Assembly”

      Here are just a few things the Georgia Legislature did prior and during 1956 that was not segregation related, FYI:
      •1952 — HR 250-9286 (pp 1250,1331,1689,1815,1828) To Propose and urge the creation of a Condederate Memorial Park at Stone Mountain. Adopted 11Feb.1952
      •1953 — HB 160 (pp 12,131,134,171,374,381) To provide pensions for widows of Confederate Veterans Adopted 4 FEB. 1953
      •1953 — SR 65 (pp 1251,1260,1481,1491,1689) The Confederate Veterans’ Home property was given to the Georgia military department Adopted 1Dec.1953
      •1955 — HR 35 (pp114,134,759) A resolution urging the Governor to purchase Stone Mountain because, “the incomplete and unsightly condition of the Stone Mountain Memorial has long weighed upon the pride and civic concience of all Georgians.” and the acquisition of Stone Mountain by the State would insure, “a lasting Memorial.” Adopted 18Jan.1955
      •1955 — HR 48 (pp155,200) Recommended the placing of a bust of General “Stonewall” Jackson in the Hall of Fame in New York City. Project was begun by the UDC and had the, “whole hearted endorsement,” by the State. Adopted 20Jan.1955
      •1955 — HR 145 (pp513,680,690,759) A resolution designating December 9th of each year as “Uncle Remus Day” Adopted 15Feb.1955
      •1955 — HR 195 (p800) A resolution honouring ‘Miss Anne Collins as, “Miss Deep South of 1954” Adopted 16Feb. 1955
      •1955 — HB 14 (pp32,37,51,81,82) A bill to establish the Georgia State War Veterans’ Home Adopted 7June1955
      •1955 — HR 22 (p90) “A resolution naming the new bridge across the Wilmington river “Memorial Bridge” in honour of deceased veterans.” Adopted 17June1955
      •1956 — SR 30 (pp 449,468,1135,1140,1378) a resolution creating the “All-south Centennial Committee of Georgia” Adopted 17Feb.1956
      •1956 — SR 48 (pp1068,1174) A resolution to preserve the Confederate Flags at the Capitol. Adopted 15Feb1956
      •1956 — HB 188 (pp 236,306,309,431) A bill to abolish the State Division of Confederate Pensions and Records. It was amended to put all records with reference to, “the glorious men of the Confederacy,” under control of the Department of Archival History. Adopted 26Jan.1956
      •1956 — HB 241 (pp 297,581,587) A bill to dispose of the Confederate Soldiers’ Home and to provide for the care of widows now living there. Adopted 2Feb.1956
      •1956 — SB 98 (pp 598,602,710,719,856) This is the bill that created the wonderful 1956 State Flag. Adopted9Feb.1956
      •1957 — HR 217 (p1027) A resolution to commend the Confederate Veterans’ Sons (SCV) for their efforts to preserve our glorious heritage. Adopted 20Feb.1957
      •1957 — HB 610 (pp 876,1036) A bill to increase the amount of pension given to widows of Confederate Veterans Adopted 19Feb.1957
      •1957 — HR 234 (pp1100,1179) A resolution to commend the formation of the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Association and encourage them (it) to finish the monument. Adopted 22Feb.1957

      Numerous State funded Historical Markers were placed around Georgia in the following years:
      1953-40, 1954-249, 1955-380, 1956-125, 1957-341, 1958-285, 1959-238, 1960-42, 1961-14, 1962-33, 1963-22, 1964-18, 1965-7 . That’s a total of 1,794 markers placed between 1953 and 1965. Of those, 1,373 were placed between 1953 and 1959.

  • Woodrowfan May 16, 2013 @ 6:24

    FWIW, it’s also popular among some Star Trek fans because it was played at Spock’s funeral at the end of ST2. Seriously, I had a coworker play it at her wedding for that very reason.

  • Gregg Kimball May 16, 2013 @ 5:30

    Here is a timeline for “Amazing Grace”: Much of this seems to be based on Steve Turner’s Amazing Grace: The Story of America’s Most Beloved Song. It’s a solid, very readable book about Newton’s story and the story of the song. A correction to the information above. The tune’s title in Virginia Harmony is not “New Britain” but rather “Harmony Grove.” The “New Britain” tune title first appears in the Southern Harmony (1835). As noted above, the words were matched with several different tunes in the 19th century. Turner also points out that Newton began commanding slave-trading ships after his conversion, and only slowly made his way to an antislavery position., cutting against the popular “folk myth” of the songs origins. One of the more interesting versions of the song is by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, which was a major hit in the early 70s. Apparently, the band was very skeptical about recording the song because it was not a traditional piping piece. Now, of course, it has become “traditional” and and almost expected at all manner of gatherings.

    • Kevin Levin May 16, 2013 @ 5:31

      Nice to hear from you, Gregg. Thanks so much for passing this along.

  • Amy May 15, 2013 @ 13:26

    Reminds me of something out of the mockumentary “C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America”. So silly. I wouldn’t mind seeing some comedians go after them like they’ve gone after the Westboro weirdoes.

  • Bill Underhill May 15, 2013 @ 12:49

    Where is Isadora Duncan when you need her?

    • Andy Hall May 22, 2013 @ 4:50

      My friend was going to give her a lift in his new convertible. They should’ve been here by now.

  • Corey Meyer May 15, 2013 @ 10:58

    What I also find interesting is that in most cases with this black “reenactor” and H. K. as well as other SCV “reenactors” is the use of the Artillery color and Cavalry color on their uniforms. Yes Artillery was red, Cavalry was yellow and Infantry was blue. But, you never see some of these really bad looking “reenactors” wearing the blue. I wonder what the red has to do with it all. Hampton’s Red Shirts? Just like to shoot the big guns?

    I also think that those branch colors are over represented in Civil War reenacting anyway. You rarely see those colors on orginal uniforms.

    Oh…just curious!

  • Brad May 15, 2013 @ 10:01

    I thought the dance was unusual but probably fit a certain described pattern. However, what I thought disturbing and maybe that’s too strong but is the man playing the role of the slave/servant. Altogether, it’s just a little unusual and something taken from our past.

    • Kevin Levin May 15, 2013 @ 10:10

      I tend to think the whole scene is perfectly choreographed. Innocent white women dressed in white, dancing to a hymn with a Confederate flag and loyal slave nearby. It makes perfect sense.

  • Christine M. Smith May 15, 2013 @ 7:41

    According to The Hymnal 1982 of the Episcopal Church, the words are by John Newton, with stanza 5, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years…etc” by John Rees, 19th century. The tune is New Britain from Virginia Harmony, 1831. The adaptation is attributed to Edwin O. Excell, and the harmony to Austin Cole Lovelace, b. 1919. This information is the standard citation material piece which follows each song in the hymnal.

    Civil War Heritage Trails website indicates that Newton wrote the words in 1770’s and that South Carolinian William Walker set it to music to the popular tune New Britain in 1835. Perhaps here is the Confederate/Southern connection.

    The Virginia Harmony was a tune book the same as the Southern Harmony and other similar tune books. Hymns would be sung to a particular tune which everyone would know. In the early prayer books for both the Anglican and Episcopal churches only the words would be printed, along with instructions as to which tune sing it to. One place this can bee seen is in the Christmas carol, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” which, when sung to an entirely different tune is quite unusual.

    And that, boys and girls, is your music history lesson for the day. 😉


    • Kevin Levin May 15, 2013 @ 8:39

      Thanks, Christine.

  • Corey Meyer May 15, 2013 @ 6:56

    This is what it says on YouTube…

    Published on May 14, 2013

    Performed by “The Dixie Belles”

    Honoring our Confederate Patriot Ancestors through performing original dances and vignettes to music popular during the “War Between the States” or about the “WBTS”.

    Choreographer and Author, Nancy Markham Miller
    The Dixie Belles are: Nancy, Becky and Nancy

    I think it’s a bit disturbing…IMHO…

    • Christine M. Smith May 15, 2013 @ 7:42

      Of course they’d be the Dixie Belles. What other kind are there, after all? 😉

  • Christine M. Smith May 15, 2013 @ 5:36

    I should have said it is liturgical dance. That is the correct term for it.

    • Kevin Levin May 15, 2013 @ 5:37

      Got it. Thanks again.

      • Betty Giragosian May 15, 2013 @ 5:59

        I have a feeling that those folks know the story of Amazing Grace. This Methodist has known it all her life. That was some good singing in the background. I had never heard that it was associated with the KKK. Who knows, maybe some poor soul was redeemed.

        I don’t know who these folks are, but seems to have been a right nice service they were having.

        • Kevin Levin May 15, 2013 @ 6:04

          A song about a converted slave trader and a black man playing the role of loyal slave/soldier is certainly a powerful combination. I am sure it was quite entertaining.

  • John May 15, 2013 @ 5:35

    Heres Scott. Take a history lesson on the facts.

    • Scott A. MacKenzie May 15, 2013 @ 6:22

      even if I accepted this, the links between the song and the anti-slavery movement are still very strong. I find it hard to believe that those in the antebellum South would have used a song written by a former slave ship captain who denounced the trade as barbaric, used his new found Christian faith to do the same, and who allied himself with William Wilberforce. The ruling slaveocracy in the South never would have tolerated such a threat to their regime. Yet for the KKK and modern neo-Confederates to use Amazing Grace as a hymn amuses me with its irony and inappropriateness.

      • Kevin Levin May 15, 2013 @ 6:37

        It makes sense ti assume that this group understands the anti-slavery connection given the presence of the Confederate flag as well as the black individual who symbolizes the loyal slave/soldier.

  • Christine M. Smith May 15, 2013 @ 5:34

    It’s interpretive dance. It’s done in many churches, especially the more fundamental religions, as a way for them to dance without being sinful. No really, that was a joke. Sorry. It is done in many such churches as a way to “interpret” religious music. I am an Episcopalian and it was done some in our church some 20 years ago, when it first started. I haven’t seen or heard it in ages. It can be quite beautiful, but yes….don’t they know it’s a hymn about a converted slave trader, and why are they doing this kind of dancing at what appears to be some kind of neo-Confederate rally? Sometimes I just wonder about people.

    • Kevin Levin May 15, 2013 @ 5:36


      That’s incredibly helpful. It is indeed a curious blend of neo-Confederate symbolism and religious dance.

  • Scott A. MacKenzie May 15, 2013 @ 5:23

    Are they not aware that “Amazing Grace” is an anti-slavery hymn, as well as being tied to the Klan?

    • Kevin Levin May 15, 2013 @ 5:29

      OK, but can somebody shed some light on this particular dance?

      • Andy Hall May 15, 2013 @ 5:33

        Something a local Sunday school or youth group came up with. It have no specific liturgical significance, if that’s what you’re asking.

        • Andy Hall May 15, 2013 @ 5:34

          Duh. “. . . has no specific liturgical. . . .”

    • John May 15, 2013 @ 5:30

      So the problem is what?

      • Kevin Levin May 15, 2013 @ 5:31

        No problem. I would like to know something about the dance being performed. I certainly understand the symbolism of having a black man dressed as a soldier.

    • John May 15, 2013 @ 5:31


    • John May 15, 2013 @ 5:33

      No Scott. You are wrong…..

      Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…” So begins one of the most beloved hymns of all times, a staple in the hymnals of many denominations, New Britain or “45 on the top” in Sacred Harp. The author of the words was John Newton, the self-proclaimed wretch who once was lost but then was found, saved by amazing grace.

      Newton was born in London July 24, 1725, the son of a commander of a merchant ship which sailed the Mediterranean. When John was eleven, he went to sea with his father and made six voyages with him before the elder Newton retired. In 1744 John was impressed into service on a man-of-war, the H. M. S. Harwich. Finding conditions on board intolerable, he deserted but was soon recaptured and publicly flogged and demoted from midshipman to common seaman.

      Finally at his own request he was exchanged into service on a slave ship, which took him to the coast of Sierra Leone. He then became the servant of a slave trader and was brutally abused. Early in 1748 he was rescued by a sea captain who had known John’s father. John Newton ultimately became captain of his own ship, one which plied the slave trade.

      Although he had had some early religious instruction from his mother, who had died when he was a child, he had long since given up any religious convictions. However, on a homeward voyage, while he was attempting to steer the ship through a violent storm, he experienced what he was to refer to later as his “great deliverance.” He recorded in his journal that when all seemed lost and the ship would surely sink, he exclaimed, “Lord, have mercy upon us.” Later in his cabin he reflected on what he had said and began to believe that God had addressed him through the storm and that grace had begun to work for him.

      For the rest of his life he observed the anniversary of May 10, 1748 as the day of his conversion, a day of humiliation in which he subjected his will to a higher power. “Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ’tis grace has bro’t me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” He continued in the slave trade for a time after his conversion; however, he saw to it that the slaves under his care were treated humanely.

      In 1750 he married Mary Catlett, with whom he had been in love for many years. By 1755, after a serious illness, he had given up seafaring forever. During his days as a sailor he had begun to educate himself, teaching himself Latin, among other subjects. From 1755 to 1760 Newton was surveyor of tides at Liverpool, where he came to know George Whitefield, deacon in the Church of England, evangelistic preacher, and leader of the Calvinistic Methodist Church. Newton became Whitefield’s enthusiastic disciple. During this period Newton also met and came to admire John Wesley, founder of Methodism. Newton’s self-education continued, and he learned Greek and Hebrew.

      He decided to become a minister and applied to the Archbishop of York for ordination. The Archbishop refused his request, but Newton persisted in his goal, and he was subsequently ordained by the Bishop of Lincoln and accepted the curacy of Olney, Buckinghamshire. Newton’s church became so crowded during services that it had to be enlarged. He preached not only in Olney but in other parts of the country. In 1767 the poet William Cowper settled at Olney, and he and Newton became friends.

      Cowper helped Newton with his religious services and on his tours to other places. They held not only a regular weekly church service but also began a series of weekly prayer meetings, for which their goal was to write a new hymn for each one. They collaborated on several editions of Olney Hymns, which achieved lasting popularity. The first edition, published in 1779, contained 68 pieces by Cowper and 280 by Newton.

      Among Newton’s contributions which are still loved and sung today are “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds” and ”Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken,” as well as “Amazing Grace.” Composed probably between 1760 and 1770 in Olney, ”Amazing Grace” was possibly one of the hymns written for a weekly service. Through the years other writers have composed additional verses to the hymn which came to be known as “Amazing Grace” (it was not thus entitled in Olney Hymns), and possibly verses from other Newton hymns have been added. However, these are the six stanzas that appeared, with minor spelling variations, in both the first edition in 1779 and the 1808 edition, the one nearest the date of Newton’s death. It appeared under the heading Faith’s Review and Expectation, along with a reference to First Chronicles, chapter 17, verses 16 and 17 [see the below for this Scripture – Graham Pockett].

      • Kevin Levin May 15, 2013 @ 5:34

        How about a reference for this. You certainly didn’t just write this out in the last 3 minutes.

      • CMcWhirter May 15, 2013 @ 6:35

        Newton became an abolitionist later in life but it’s correct that he was long involved in the slave trade. Regardless, “Amazing Grace” was not intended to be an anti-slavery song. However, like similarly ubiquitous songs, it has been put to all sorts of political uses – including abolitionism.

        • Kevin Levin May 15, 2013 @ 6:38

          Thanks. I should have gone straight to your book.

          • CMcWhirter May 15, 2013 @ 6:40

            Thanks Kevin. In your defense, I don’t mention the song in my book.

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