how many times?


Three years ago we were pulling them down …

The email below was sent to the Editor of the Palm Beach Post and many of my high school classmates in June of 2017. I just thought it might be of interest once again–what with recent societal events taking the turn that they have …

to: the Editor of the Palm Beach Post and my High School Classmates (Palm Beach High School, Class of 1958)

In case you missed it–the Confederate Memorial in the Woodlawn Cemetery in West Palm Beach honoring Civil War veterans that ended up fighting on the losing side is about to become the next bit of Southern heritage to be expunged from history. I am not a red necked, bigoted, tobacco chewing, rebel flag waving good ole boy. I am a serious student of American History and, although I am descended from numerous slave holders and a Confederate soldier that died at Malvern Hill, I am of the firm opinion that a Southern victory in the War of Northern Aggression would have been unfortunate. Unfortunate not only for a fledgling nation but for the future history of all of mankind.

Acknowledging the pure ugliness of the very concept of slavery and recognizing that its preservation was the primary reason for the secession of the southern states I am still forced to ask a question. When will the politically correct crowd “call off the dogs”?

Assuming the answer to be “never”; I want to give them their next project. This one will be of much greater impact and should keep them occupied for years to come. It will involve voters and politicians from the Everglades to the pan-handle and stir up emotions on a scale we can only imagine!


Baker                                    James McNair Baker      a Confederate Senator

Bradford                              Richard Bradford           the first Florida Confederate officer to die in the Civil War

Calhoun                                John C. Calhoun              leading Southern politician and slave holder

Clay                                        Henry Clay                       Kentucky statesman, founder of the Whig Party and slave holder

Gadsden                                James Gadsden               considered slavery to be “a social blessing” and abolitionists to be “the greatest curse of the Nation”

Hendry                                  Francis A. Hendry          Confederate cavalry officer and slave owner

Jackson                                  Andrew Jackson              7th President of the US, a slave owner and soon to lose his place on the $20 bill to Harriet Tubman

Jefferson                               Thomas Jefferson            3rd President of the US, author of the Declaration of Independence and, you guessed it, a slave owner

Lee                                          Robert E. Lee                    no comment

Levy                                        David Levy Yulee            imprisoned for nine months after the Civil War for “supporting slavery and secession”

Madison                                James Madison                 4th President of the US, hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” and owner of hundreds of slaves during his lifetime

Marion                                   Francis Marion                 the “Swamp Fox” of the American Revolution, from South Carolina and a slave holder

Monroe                                  James Monroe                   5th President of the US, a Virginia Planter and owner of hundreds of slaves

Pasco                                      Samuel Pasco                     Southern “Planter” and, naturally, a slave owner

Polk                                         James K. Polk                     President of the US during the Mexican War and owner of 25 slaves

Putnam                                  Benjamin A. Putnam        Florida Legislator and slave owner

Sumter                                   Thomas Sumter                 Revolutionary War General, cotton plantation owner and slave holder

Taylor                                     Zachary Taylor                  another US President from the South whose family owned 150 slaves

Walton                                   George Walton                   first Secretary of Florida Territory and slave owner

Washington                          George Washington         “Father of our Country”, first President of the US and one of Virginia’s largest slave owners

Dixie                                                   now why would anybody have a problem with this?


Jim Powell


Over forty thousand of North Carolina’s men went off to war and never came home. In retrospect, their cause was both lost and wrong and, as a white Southerner and a proud American, I recognize this fact. How many times do I have to say “I’m sorry” and is it really necessary to hang the memory of so many fallen fathers, sons, and husbands from a light post in Durham?

Hanging Rebel


2 thoughts on “how many times?

  1. As a progressive, liberal, feminist bleeding heart Democrat, i have to say that I am–more or less–on your ‘side’. Definitely on the side that knows the war was wrong and that it’s good and right that the south lost. And mostly on the side of, “calm down and let’s talk about this.” I think we should cool off and let decision makers try to make rational choices about which symbols of racism we want erased and which ones we need to keep as a history lesson.and maybe as a reminder of less enlightened times. Museums come to mind. I’m pretty sure that most of those living and breathing southern boys who went off to fight for wealthy landowners’ right to own human beings as farm animals didn’t want to, so lynching a statue of a fallen soldier on a lamppost seems extreme to me. But here’s where it gets sticky for me: What about the statues of generals reared back on their horses with swords raised defending a way of like that was indefensible? Do we leave those statues in public parks where descendants of slaves have to walk by them every day? I can’t imagine being black, but if I could, wouldn’t I want them to come down? If, in my not-so-distant past a descendant of mine had been lynched for real, how would I feel about that statue of a confederate soldier? Would I be happy to find more worthy heroes–male and female–black and white–to take the places of the Confederate heroes? Probably. Taking a breath and looking at the whole picture, I believe that whatever happens, the ocean will keep rolling onto the shore long after we’re all gone, maybe even after the hatred and fear are gone, and the names that are arbitrarily assigned to counties (whose borders were also arbitrarily drawn up) won’t really matter all that much twenty, fifty, a hundred years from now, will it? Anyway, Mr. Powell, your words were profound, as always, and your apology–multiple apologies–have been heard, And are mirrored by me, a fan.


  2. Maybe you are not the target of BLM messaging. Maybe it’s the woman from Ft. Lauderdale who posted on a thread I follow that Southern slaves were happy to be here because African slave owners were so brutal, totally ignoring the money paid by White slave traders to capture those slaves. Maybe it’s the man who posted that an Army buddy from the south told him the Confederate Battle Flag represented ‘Southern hospitality”. Maybe it’s the miscreants who left a noose in the race garage of Bubba Wallace at Talldega. Maybe it’s the idea that Black men can still be murdered for the crime of sleeping in a drive-through while drunk or passing a counterfeit $20 bill that he may not have even known he had. Maybe it’s the idea that Black families still have to teach their children to behave differently than you taught yours, so as not to be shot by police for a busted tail light. So, yes, you can stop apologizing for the statues and for the Slave-owning ancestors, which I have a ton of. Instead, try to muster up the feeling inside you knowing your mother’s grandmother had her child sold away from her, that your own mother wasn’t allowed to vote until she could deconstruct passages in the Constitution, that you couldn’t own a house because banks refused to lend to Blacks, even if you had the job to supports the mortgage. If you can’t do that, then try for the feeling in 1958 that your textbooks in your rundown high school had been given to you only because PBHS students had worn them out and they were out of date. Not to mention that your teachers weren’t even required to have a college education. How about we erect a statue in a park near you of Hitler, to commemorate WWII. Just, to teach a little history, you know. It’s not about you, Jimmy. It’s not about you. And, just to be clear, it’s insulting and unworthy of you to presume to know how we Democrats feel, as Progressives, Moderates or Nothing. We are not a monolith of thought. We slide along a gradient, depending on the topic. We don’t take our beliefs or actions from one autocrat or one news source. Patty and I, for example, disagree a lot over topics, but we still remain great friends because we have the ability to not demonize each other with words that wound. FYI.


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