J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “African American”

Mississippi Stands Firm


A lawsuit has reignited debate over the presence of Confederate symbols in a Southern state, but in Mississippi, Southerners are mounting a legal defense of their Dixie flag.

A federal complaint filed last week says the Confederate cross on the Mississippi flag is hate speech that endangers African Americans, according to Carlos Moore, a black attorney from Grenada, Miss., who cited the killing last summer of black church-goers in South Carolina.


The government of Mississippi is preparing to defend their flag, however. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) said voters should decide whether their flag should be redesigned, not a “frivolous attempt to use the federal court system.” The state’s attorney general, Democrat Jim Hood, said his personal belief is that the flag hurts the state and it should change, but that will not prevent him from fulfilling his oath to defend his state’s laws.
Although several Southern flags reference elements of the Confederate “Stars and Bars,” Mississippi is the last state to keep the secessionist symbol in its entirety. While some Mississippians say flag the reflects poorly on the state’s image, many see it as a symbol of loyalty to their often misunderstood, even maligned, state history.

“It is frustrating that the United States as a whole lumps us all as a bunch of ignorant racists who are uneducated and don’t have shoes and go around having stereotypes about everybody else,” Bess Averett, director of the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation in Vicksburg, Miss., told The Christian Science Monitor in 2006. “Hey, we have cars and trains like everyone else, so we could leave if we wanted.”


In Mississippi, people are digging in their heels in support of both their “Rebel Flag” and self-determination.

A previous state referendum – in 2001 – showed voters supported keeping the Confederate symbol by nearly a 2 to 1 margin, with a fairly equal voting split coming even from black neighborhoods.


Where Mr. Moore sees “state-sanctioned hate speech,” as he wrote in his lawsuit, Southerns see a symbol of their family’s heritage, said Jeremy Gouge, a 44-year-old roofer, who has family ties to the South.


“I know there’s things that happened. I can’t control what other people have done,” Mr. Gouge told the Associated Press. “What’s the next flag that someone is going to say, ‘We don’t like that flag, let’s take that one down?'”
(Courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, 3/3/16)

Hello Dolly!


Dolls have always been an integral part of American culture, and during the Civil War, they served more purposes than just posing as playthings. Dolls were frequently used to smuggle desperately needed medical supplies across enemy lines. Drugs were stuffed into the dolls’ china heads and, in fact, one such doll was recently discovered.  Bisque and porcelain dolls wearing patriotic clothing were hot items during the War Between the States, especially in cities, where more families could obtain European imports. In rural America, handmade dolls made of rags and corn husks provided comfort, and were important contributions to a society fragmented with political unrest and turbulence.

After the war ended, dolls evolved as far as detail in their design, but they still carried a message of patriotism, especially once WWI broke out. Kewpie dolls were all the rage in the Roaring 20’s, but during the Great Depression, no one could afford dolls, so paper dolls were invented. The 30’s also brought us the very first collectible doll, which was none other than Scarlett O’Hara from “Gone with the Wind.” And WWII gave us G.I. Joe. Fashion dolls, such as our beloved Barbie, appeared in the 1960’s, as did the first African American dolls with realistic features.

Still, the Civil War forever remains in our psyche, and collectors are still able to purchase doll replications of famous generals and not so famous soldiers. Just for fun, here is a link to a website that offers some of these collectors’ items. Fiddle-dee-dee!


What? No WBTS?!

Next Monday, April 1, the newly created Memphis City Council “Parks Study Committee” will conduct a meeting. The event will take place at 4:30 p.m., and the public is invited to voice their opinions and concerns about renaming three Civil War themed parks in town.

For those of you who might like to attend, the meeting will be held at the Memphis City Hall at 125 N. Main Street on the first floor in the Council Auditorium. The committee is only allowing each person with a voice on the subject to speak for two minutes, and they will buzz anyone who mentions the War Between the States, slavery, or states’ rights.

According to Lee Millar, who is a spokesman for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, one committee member who opposes retaining the names of the parks (i.e. Confederate Park, Jefferson Davis Park, and Forrest Park, named after famous Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest) previously “stated that there aren’t but very few citizens left in Memphis who have Confederate veteran ancestors and want the park names restored.”

How preposterous a notion. Personally speaking, nearly everyone around here that I have spoken to has an ancestor, and I speak to a lot of people at book signings, presentations, etc.

Mr. Millar also went on to report that this opponent committee member considered people with Confederate heritage to be “in the minority, and (Memphis) will do what the African-American majority wants to do with the parks.”

I only wish I knew who this racist bigot is so I could write to him personally!

54th Massachusetts

Morgan Freeman rocks. He is one of my favorite actors, and he has been in so many awesome movies that they are too numerous to mention. Another favorite actor of mine is Matthew Broderick. What do these two have in common, you might ask? They starred together in a film entitled “Glory.” This movie depicted the story of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, which consisted primarily of African American soldiers. It was one of the first official black units of the Union Army during the Civil War, and has gone down in history.


Tomorrow is the 149th anniversary of the 54th’s famous attack on Ft. Wagner near Charleston, South Carolina. The battle ended in tragedy, as most of the 54th was destroyed by Confederate defenders. Their commander, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, was also killed, and was buried in a mass grave along with his comrades. Two hundred and seventy two soldiers were casualties of the battle. Regardless of the high number of casualties, the battle inspired many more African Americans to enlist and fight for preservation of the Union.


“Glory” was released in 1989 (a very good year), and is still one of my favorite movies. It also features Denzel Washington, who was a newbie at the time. In my opinion, Matthew Broderick bears a striking resemblance to Colonel Shaw, and the performances of every actor are phenomenal. It is an inspiring depiction of a profound and controversial time in American history. If you haven’t yet seen it, I encourage you to do so.

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