The Southern Trinity
Clyde Broadway's, Trinity Elvis, Jesus and Robert E. Lee
A mother and daughter have lunch at a local meat-and-three restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia.
"The winners of wars always get to tell their stories and the losers' version is minimized."
Gregory Newson had a daydream while listening to a speech by Malcom X, Message to the Grass Roots. Struggling with his own identity as a black man in America, he felt called to "produce art concerning the human condition and internal war we all battle."
Author of Uncle T and the Uppity Spy, Newson hopes to gain recognition of the black Confederate's cause during the "War Between the States."
Gregory Newson dons a Confederate uniform during the Decatur Book Festival in Georgia. Hailing from New York, Newson hoped to sell copies of his book, Uncle T and the Uppity Spy, a semi-fictional tale of the relationship between General Stonewall Jackson and his slave, Jim Lewis.
Two young boys look on as Confederate reenactors assemble for the annual Robert E. Lee Birthday Parade in Milledgeville, Georgia. Lee's birthday is designated a state holiday in Alabama and Mississippi. Both states’ official records designate the third Monday in January as celebrations of both Lee’s birthday and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s.
"To be a Southerner is to be, in my opinion, unlike any other person from a region because of our peculiar history. Our history, the legacy of slavery, the legacy of starting a Civil War for independence, and having lost that Civil War, are defining elements of white Southernness.
I'm speaking as a white southern male for whom the Civil War, the Confederate War for Independence, is the defining element of my regional identity. It cannot be effaced.
Blacks and whites can differ about the legacy of the war, we can differ about the meaning of the war, but the war won't go away."
Stephen Davis, Ph.D, author of What the Yankees Did to Us and Atlanta Will Fall
A rendering of the Confederate quarter hangs in the laundry room of Stephen Davis, Ph.D, author of What the Yankees Did to Us.
Highway 41 near Morriston, Florida.
A local man attends the annual Battle of Lovejoy's Station, a Civil War reenactment held at Nash Farm Battlefield in Hampton, Georgia.
This historic battlefield and what's left of its 100 acres is nestled between Henry and Clayton Counties. Threatened by development and urban sprawl, the local community stepped forward to buy back the land and establish it as a historic park commemorating the battle.
The park stands today on the list of Most Endangered Civil War Battlefields according to the Civil War Preservation Trust.
A Confederate reenanctor takes part in the annual Battle of Lovejoy's Station held at Nash Farm Battlefield in Hampton, Georgia.
The battle, which took place in the summer of 1864, is known for having the largest calvary breakthrough saber charge in Georgia's history.
Established in 1834, Tanner's Baptist Church in Ellenwood, Georgia, is one of the oldest existing churches in Clayton County. Due to a mishandling of church records, however, there were no known records of Confederate dead buried in the old churchyard nearby. Then, Shannon Bradley Byers, who claims to be the South's only “paranormal genealogist,” discovered records pointing her in the direction of Tanner's Baptist Church as she searched for the remains of her Confederate ancestor, William Redding Byers. With the help of the local Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter and the church, Byers’ name was entered into the record at Tanner's, and a service was held in his honor on September 20, 2008.
Gone with the Wind Museum
Road to Tara Museum
Confederate Memorial Day Service
Stone Mountain, Georgia
Joe Jordan, commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ John B. Gordon Camp 46, stands outside Mary Mac's Tea Room in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, where the SCV’s monthly meeting is held. The evening this photo was taken, I witnessed the predominantly African-American staff at Mary Mac’s serve a round table of aging white men discussing the “War of Northern Aggression” and their fervent desire to maintain the values and principles upheld by their Confederate forefathers.
Neighbors in Villa Rica, Georgia, awoke to Ku Klux Klan flyers on their driveway one November morning. In my search to find who made them, I came up empty. Instead, I drove around aimlessly hoping to find a worthwhile lead. I stopped when I saw James King sitting outside his "man cave," which is outfitted in KKK and Confederate decor. King said he was an ex-Klan member who grew tired of the “inside politics.” King gave me a tour of his hangout and let me hold one of the rabbits he raises for meat.
A neon cross glows just outside the doors of the Jesus Saves Baptist Tabernacle in Nicholson, Georgia. I originally travelled to Nicholson to photograph what was, at that time, the most recently erected Confederate monument in the state but detoured abruptly after driving by the gleaming "Jesus Saves" cross up on the hill above the highway. Come to find out, I'm not the only who's made the turn. As I was welcomed inside the church by Pastor Samuel Dorsey, he told me about the numerous cases of sad and desperate truckers whom he's found outside the doors of his church, brought to their knees under that refulgent symbol of life and death. By blessing or happenstance, I shared a pew that evening with a middle-aged Southern reenactor who portrays the Union Army Commanding Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman.
The Southern Museum
"The Confederate Rose, when it blooms, it blooms white for the purity of the South. Then the next day it turns pink for the sufferin' of the South. Then it turns blood red for the blood that was shed during the War Between the States."
Captain Bill Watkins
SCV Commander, St. Clair Camp 308
A young Southerner dresses as a Union soldier for an annual reenactment at Nash Farm Battlefield.
Wildman's Civil War Surplus
Tim "Bubba" Turner, Lt. Commander of the Confederate Memorial Camp 1432.
Stone Mountain, Georgia
Michele Green sat far from the protests and fights during a "pro-white" Confederate Rally held just before Confederate Memorial Day at Stone Mountain Park in April 2016. She said, "There is no pure white race that exists. They've used symbolism to intimidate and infuriate us, but at the end of the day, it's just a flag. If you know the history of the flag, you know it was the state flag of Georgia. It represents slavery to black people in the South, but that's why I embrace it, because I never want to forget my past. I never want to forget what they did to us — how they wrapped us in that flag and lynched us as strange fruit from the trees. I never want to forget that."
Hardeman Primitive Baptist Church
Burger Chick in Tallapoosa, Georgia, is the weekend hang for local regulars and high school students. Haralson County High School in Tallapoosa boasts of being home to the "Rebels and Rebelettes" and even has the Confederate battle flag painted on the high school gymnasium. In September 2000, someone painted over the flag, and the student body voted 861 to 150 to have it restored to its original condition. The margin of victory shocked me.
On July 18, 1956, a Joint Resolution of Congress authorized the production of four gold coins to be made for the surviving Civil War Veterans. There were three Rebels and one Yankee. William "Uncle Bill" Lundy claimed he was one of the four.
Uncle Bill fought under the 4th Alabama Infantry in the Confederate Army and lived to be 109 until his death in 1957. In recent years however, legitimacy of the veteran's claim was called into question after a census was discovered revealing William Lundy was actually born in 1860, putting him around 6 years old at the end of the Civil War.
The coin, depicting Grant and Lee side by side, currently remains with the Lundy family in Crestview, Florida.
H.K. Edgerton stands outside the courthouse in Defuniak Springs, Florida, during a Confederate rally held along his Southern Cross Revival March. The Southern Poverty Law Center labels Edgerton as a "black Neo-Confederate" and describes him as an apologist for slavery. Oddly enough, Edgerton formerly served as the president of the Asheville, North Carolina, branch of the NAACP but was later suspended for non-compliance after his branch fell into debt. Edgerton's appeal to white southerners is uncanny, and the SPLC provides an apt description:
"In a lily-white movement that most blacks find deeply offensive, Edgerton seems to feel quite at home. And as he dances to the tune of ‘Dixie’ — sometimes quite literally — he helps gives the cause the appearance of legitimacy."
Illustration by Gregory Newson from his book, Uncle T and the Uppity Spy.
Just about everything in Lexington, Virginia bears the namesake of either Jackson or Lee. Stonewall Square is no exception. This strip-mall near the entrance of town is home to the local Food Lion, a Hong Kong Buffet, and a deserted K-mart.
"Every tyrant, every dictator, loves Abraham Lincoln."
Pastor John Weaver is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "Neo-Confederate Extremist." His messages concerning Biblical slavery and the "Truth about the Confederate Battle Flag" are heartily welcomed within SCV circles.
I met Pastor Weaver at the Captain D's in Fitzgerald, Georgia to discuss how his Christian identity and personal views of the South's convoluted history work together for the glory of God. He explained his method of preaching like this, "I will take the biblical principles that are applicable and demonstrate how the hand of God has worked in history."
Most groups taking part in Civil War reenactments don't allow women to perform in battle. J.R. Hardman found that out after being denied permission to join her first Civil War reenactment group. She was instead prompted to join up with the other civilian women wearing hoop skirts and frilly bonnets on the sidelines. Hardman refused to be relegated to the sidelines of the battle field and has since performed a military impression at every event she has participated in throughout her time as a Civil War reenactor. Hardman's documentary film, "Reenactress,” seeks to document the lives of female reenactors who dress in male costume to portray soldiers in the Civil War. The film also brings to light that an estimated 400-1,000 soldiers in the Civil War were actually women disguised as men
The Breedlove sisters, Sheila and Susie.
The Breedlove property once belonged to General Thomas Stonewall Jackson as part of a 13 acre farm he owned in Lexington, Virginia during the 1860's.
"Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees." - Stonewall's last words.
Lucy Wilkins, Director of Lee Chapel & Museum in Lexington, Virginia.
In the summer of 2014, Washington and Lee University removed all Confederate flags from the historic Chapel due to complaints from a small group of black law students in attendance. The local Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp was denied access to the facility for their annual Lee-Jackson Day celebration, a tradition at the school that dates back to 1889.
Wilkins described to me the uncomfortable mix of emotions involved in the situation, and then resumed her duties as Tour Guide for the rest of the afternoon.
Smoke Rise, Georgia
Inside the bathroom of Dennis Elm hangs one of his T-shirt designs. Elm is the quartermaster of SCV Confederate Memorial Camp 1432 and an avid collector of Confederate memorabilia and assorted rarities. In his retirement, he sells handmade T-shirts as well as posters and reproduction prints depicting the Civil War at local SCV meetings and flag rallies.
"We have fought this fight as long, and as well as we know how. We have been defeated. For us as a Christian people, there is now but one course to pursue. We must accept the situation." - Robert E. Lee
On August 6, 2014, the Confederate flags were removed from Lee's Chapel in Lexington, Virginia. This statue depicts the Recumbent Lee asleep on the battlefield, who shows no sign of concern as the world around him continues to choose sides.