Letter: Ron Rawls marchers filled with racism and hate
H. K. Edgerton
Dear Historic City News editor:
On Saturday morning, I posted my colors by the cenotaph in the historic Plaza de la Constitucion, in anticipation of the arrival of the #takeemdown marchers.
As always, I was approached by many, but Sheila Jackson went to significant effort to express her views to me. I had never been so ashamed of anyone who is black. She was so filled with hate. She asked many questions but allowed no answers.
One young white man who stood listening to the exchange between us remarked, “ma’am, you are the real racist here”. Her reply to him was; “black people can’t be racist”.
All I heard were lies and threats. Her hate mirrored that of the other souls who were imported from around the State and who claimed that they came to St. Augustine to demand that the City leaders take down the Cenotaphs of the Confederate dead.
One speaker, a young white woman who I learned was Holli Rumsey from Jacksonville, threatened that unless the City of St Augustine took the Confederate memorial down like the City of New Orleans did with their monument, her organization would tear it down, invoking the specter of violence that happened in Durham North Carolina.
Their hate was revealed as they lied about, derided and bashed many people, not just the Confederate Dead, but also the wonderful St. Augustine Police Officers, who should be commended for the honorable way they went about protecting all of us. Even President Trump, may God bless him, became a target of their venom on this day of hate.
A lot of talk ensued about the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. last Saturday. Rawls himself proclaimed that if he had to raise his hand in violence to any opposition, he would. Dr. King never sanctioned violence as Rawls did.
You call out the name of Jesus who was about love, yet all you espouse from your mouth is hate.
King stood in front of the same 1879 memorial, erected before the Jim Crow era by the Ladies Memorial Association of Saint Augustine, yet we never heard Dr. King suggest taking it down. In fact, Andrew Young, who the protesters referenced, admonishes us to leave the memorials alone.
Real civil rights leaders and their organizations (Pole Bearers and Knights Monumental Associations), began to understand how the so-called “freed African” was duped and used by those with an agenda to foment hate and division between the races. This march and its message Saturday does nothing but distract from the real problems in our society. Nothing has changed; Rawls and the likes of him have resurfaced again with the same radical reconstruction agenda suffered by the citizens of St. Augustine 150-years ago.
To conclude his day of hate, Rawls and his cronies celebrated The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery Alabama. This is the first national memorial to the victims of lynching in the United States, and it sits on six acres facing the state capital. But Rawls told his demonstrators that the Confederate memorial, and the names of the 44 fallen Confederate soldiers from St Augustine, who served when their town called them, were responsible for lynching. Poppycock!
HK Edgerton is past president of the Asheville, NC branch of the NAACP. He has been involved in civil rights for the majority of his life, and is well known for his Historic March Across Dixie to protest the removal of a plaque on the Texas Supreme Court building by then-Governor George Bush. He is a member of Save Southern Heritage – Florida, and President of Southern Heritage 411.