Black Confederates to the Rescue in Lexington, Virginia

In response to the call to remove the Confederate battle flag from the State House grounds in Columbia, SC, following the horrific shootings in Charleston back in June 2015, the Sons of Confederate Veterans issued a statement that referenced the black Confederate myth. Their argument is simple: If black men served as soldiers than the battle flag cannot be interpreted as a symbol of racism.

Well, it looks like the SCV is rallying the black troops once again, this time in Lexington, Virginia. Every January they hold a parade through the downtown area as part of their Lee-Jackson Day festivities, but this year a group calling itself CARE Rockingham beat them to the punch and scheduled their own parade to honor Martin Luther King, Jr.

The SCV decided to re-schedule their parade, but to prove that they do not embrace a racist agenda the following statement was issued that reads in part:

The Sons of Confederate Veteran’s membership is open to all races and creeds and has minority members upon its rolls. The Confederate army was not segregated and included many free and slave Blacks upon which the army would not have been able to survive otherwise… Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were both opposed to slavery. Robert E. Lee’s uncle had lead the early fight in Virginia to first stop the spread of slavery and to seek to abolish it. Stonewall Jackson famously lead his Sunday School for local blacks, teaching them to read and write against the laws of the time and through his efforts some of those students went on to prominent rolls in the future. Lexington has a school named for Rev. Lyburn Downing who’s parents were taught by Jackson and for which he installed stain glass windows honoring Jackson in his church. In Lexington you will find the grave of a free black Confederate soldier, Levi Miller, who prominently had the large letters C.S.A. placed on his grave marker.

It’s all there. Lee was anti-slavery. Jackson was the ‘black man’s best friend.’ Levi Miller was a soldier in the Confederate army. In fact, he was a camp slave. One man in the unit in which he was present described him as “a pet to every soldier.”

The SCV can’t catch a break, but as I have said before, they have no one to blame but themselves. Fewer and fewer people are embracing this interpretation of the Confederate past or see racial toleration expressed in the group’s current membership and activities.

A museum dedicated to the SCV’s preferred interpretation of the war could not have come at a better time.

9 comments… add one
  • James Nov 7, 2016 @ 0:38

    Having been a soldier for 10 years and a recent graduate of USF with a masters in Humanities, I am curious how you call yourself an Historian. It seems to me that you are focused more on current events that have some tenuous connection to the historically racist and bigoted American South. (Sarcasm Intentional). If you were a real history teacher shouldn’t you try to teach the mindset of those that lived during the time your teaching about? We teach about the Greeks and hold them up as paragons of virtue, yet the Athenians owned slaves and gave little to no rights to women. Or the Roman’s perhaps? A people who gave us Marcus Aurelius and where know for selling survivors of their conquered enemies into slavery. This is not history my friend. We are not future judges, we are here to teach history and make it come alive to everyone around us. The world suffers for lack of good teachers in the humanities. I implore you, leave the political tripe behind and simply teach the facts. There was great, good and evil in both sides. As a man of history you of all people should know there is no perfect right or wrong. It just is, and its colorful and fascinating and tells us all where we come from. Not so we can look back laughing and pointing, but so that we can recognize the failings of being human as well as the triumphs. Most of the time, they happen simultaneously.

    • Kevin Levin Nov 7, 2016 @ 1:56

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Perhaps at some point you can pinpoint where in my current book project on the subject I am engaged in presentism.

    • Erick Hare Nov 11, 2016 @ 8:16

      I do not think you understood the focus of this post. Kevin referenced a statement issued by the SCV which has multiple historical fallacies riddled throughout it which attempts to skew the public’s understanding about the Civil War.

      Case in point:

      “Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were both opposed to slavery.”

      This is an utterly false statement refuted in a letter written by Robert E. Lee himself on January 11, 1865 to Andrew Hunter where Lee said that in his opinion the best relations between the races was that of master and slave.

      Kevin will attest to the fact that I personally have referenced that particular letter multiple times in response to many blog posts he’s made similar to this one debunking the propagation in our current day of utter fallacies and myths about the Civil War era.

      Granted Kevin often does present these modern issues with people’s, often times, skewed perspectives on Civil War history, but it is still as closely focused on clarifying and discussing issues and fallacies that still exist in society about the Civil War and Reconstruction era of our nation’s history as possible.

  • no one Oct 28, 2016 @ 5:56

    Speaking of Miller, how would you edit/improve Levi Miller’s wikipedia page (search “Levi Miller (Virginia)”)?

  • bob carey Oct 28, 2016 @ 4:45

    Classic “you are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts”. Smart move by CARE to beat the SCV to the punch.

  • Bob Beatty Oct 28, 2016 @ 2:55

    Not to mention the typos and basic grammar errors…

    • Kevin Levin Oct 28, 2016 @ 2:59

      It’s pretty bad.

  • Patrick Young Oct 28, 2016 @ 2:35

    Some of those students of Jackson who went on to “prominent rolls” were so successful that they became kaisers.

    • Kevin Levin Oct 28, 2016 @ 2:48

      LOL. I missed that one. Too early.

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