Confederate Southern Conference preaches love, not hate

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PASQUOTANK COUNTY — On a hot summer day in July 2015, people of different races and varying political beliefs took to the streets of Pasquotank County to rally on behalf of their Confederate Heritage and to preach that all peoples of the area would live in harmony and respect.

This celebration, dubbed the Confederate Southern Conference, had been organized in response to recent calls by the NAACP, and others, to remove the Confederate statue from the grounds of the County Courthouse following the massacre in Charleston, S.C. and the vote in Columbia, S.C. for the removal of the Confederate flag from the State House grounds.


Many people saw the threat to the local statue as ‘piling on’ by the supporters of its removal and they wanted to speak out about their heritage, their God and their love of their fellow man, both black and white.

The Commissioners of Pasquotank County had included in their agenda, the opportunity for speakers to express their views about the fate of the statue. The crowd that signed up to speak that night was overwhelming. The Conference that followed on Saturday was a continuation of this event.

Both the Commission meeting and the outdoor Conference were organized by Sharon Russell, a mother and grandmother from the Newland area of Pasquotank County. This was her first time in bringing a large group of people together for a common purpose. When she heard that NAACP President Keith Rivers had spoken about the removal of the statute and his intention to speak on this issue before the County Board of Commissioners, Mrs. Russell decided that she was going to take action rather than simply complain.

Russell feels that many people complain about events around them in which they can participate, and speak their voice, but that most of those complainers never do anything. She believes that many people complain to their neighbors and friends but nothing else, so she decided to stand up and step out and do something, with the objective of healing for community in the aftermath of the South Carolina slayings.

Russell has known some of the bike riders that attended the celebration, through the years, and she contacted those people to come to Elizabeth City and attend a rally on behalf of Confederate Heritage. All of these individuals and groups saw this event as a worthy cause and agreed to participate. From there, social media exploded as planning for the Commissioner meeting and the outdoor Conference took root from there.

Originally, she expected a large turnout for the Conference but fears of high heat kept attendance down. Overall, she believes that approximately 200 people attended, whereas more than three times that amount was originally expected. In addition, there was considerable confusion over when the conference would begin, affecting turnout.

Among the speakers was Alex Leary, a former educator from Camden County, who spoke specifically about the role of North Carolina in the War Between the States. It was said at the conference, as well as before and after, that soldiers from North Carolina were not fighting for the cause of slavery, but to defend their state from the invasion of North Carolina by the Union forces, at which point they had to fight to defend their homes and families.

North Carolina planned to secede, therefore the Union army invaded in an attempt to forestall such an occurrence. In fact, the soldiers of the Confederate Army were acting in a manner consistent with the Constitution of the United States.

Another speaker was Gerald Pilley of Lubbock, Texas, who supports his state’s secession from the Union. Pilley claimed those in attendance were facing a formidable enemy today — not only in the South but elsewhere in the country — due to political correctness. The P.C. crowd wants to eliminate the display of the Confederate flag and to erase the southern history that is represented by statues, monuments and flags of a bygone time. As he stated, the only thing that needs to be eliminated is the politically correct people and their influence on our society.

As for Russell, she wants to see all of our citizens, both black and white, come together as one people and work for the common good. She believes the media as well as various people in our society benefit by the continuation of racial divisiveness. She spoke very frankly about the role of the NAACP, Al Sharpton and others who preach on one hand that we should heal our nation and eliminate slavery, while promoting racial distrust within our society and mistrust of law enforcement on the other.

There were signs on the streets and sidewalks promoting the word of God and messages of love and forgiveness, for both sides. All of the County Commissioners were invited to attend the event on Saturday as was Mr. Rivers. Regrettably, none of them chose to attend except Commissioner Frankie Meads.

Also among the various speakers were members of the clergy from various denominations who spoke about the need for racial harmony.

Russell spoke about South Carolina and what she sees as the general attitude of people that she fears are taking that area that the 1950s prior to the Civil Rights Movement, as if it had never occurred. She does not want to see that for Elizabeth City and hopes that we will come together as one people. She spoke about one African American man in his 60s, walking down the street in front of the courthouse, asking if slavery and swastikas were returning. At the time, she was standing next to an African American lady who was a vendor. She asked this man why he had to be so hateful. That was the only negativity of the entire day.

Earlier in the day, a group of veterans approach the Monument and were aghast to see that some bronze plates had been removed from the four sides. They called the Elizabeth City police who did come over to make a report; but so far, no one knows where these plaques are located or who removed them. However, Sharon Russell plans to follow up with appropriate law enforcement.

Also, she was somewhat surprised to learn that although she was required to pay $25 per hour for the City Police officers to serve as security, these officers stated that they were not getting any additional money in connection with this event. The fees and other expenses cost a great deal of money, and therefore, it is not expected that she will be able to afford to do this again. But if anyone is interested in making a contribution toward the expenses, please feel free to contact Sharon Russell by email

In connection with this entire discussion about slavery, the subject of an article by Walter Williams, noted Conservative Commentator and Professor of Economics at George Mason University, has been published which addresses many of these issues in a positive spirit of education.
That article has been copied from the website of a friend and is reprinted below for the benefit of our readers.
Historical ignorance about the War of 1861, by Walter Williams, professor George Mason University, published in Burlington Times-News, July 16, 2015

The victors of war write its history in order to cast themselves in the most favorable light. That explains the considerable historical ignorance about our War of 1861 and panic over the Confederate flag. To create better understanding, we have to start a bit before the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

The 1783 Treaty of Paris ended the war between the colonies and Great Britain. Its first article declared the 13 colonies “to be free, sovereign and independent states.” These 13 sovereign nations came together in 1787 as principals and created the federal government as their agent. Principals have always held the right to fire agents. In other words, states held a right to withdraw from the pact — secede.

During the 1787 Constitutional Convention, a proposal was made that would allow the federal government to suppress a seceding state. James Madison rejected it, saying, “A union of the states containing such an ingredient seemed to provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a state would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound.”

In fact, the ratification documents of Virginia, New York and Rhode Island explicitly said they held the right to resume powers delegated should the federal government become abusive of those powers. The Constitution never would have been ratified if states thought they could not regain their sovereignty — in a word, secede.

On March 2, 1861, after seven states seceded and two days before Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration, Sen. James R. Doolittle of Wisconsin proposed a constitutional amendment that read, “No state or any part thereof, heretofore admitted or hereafter admitted into the union, shall have the power to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the United States.”

Several months earlier, Reps. Daniel E. Sickles of New York, Thomas B. Florence of Pennsylvania and Otis S. Ferry of Connecticut proposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit secession. Here’s a question for the reader: Would there have been any point to offering these amendments if secession were already unconstitutional?

On the eve of the War of 1861, even unionist politicians saw secession as a right of states. Rep. Jacob M. Kunkel of Maryland said, “Any attempt to preserve the union between the states of this Confederacy by force would be impractical, and destructive of republican liberty.”

Both Northern Democratic and Republican Parties favored allowing the South to secede in peace. Just about every major Northern newspaper editorialized in favor of the South’s right to secede. New York Tribune (Feb. 5, 1860): “If tyranny and despotism justified the Revolution of 1776, then we do not see why it would not justify the secession of Five Millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861.” Detroit Free Press (Feb. 19, 1861): “An attempt to subjugate the seceded states, even if successful, could produce nothing but evil — evil unmitigated in character and appalling in content.” The New York Times (March 21, 1861): “There is growing sentiment throughout the North in favor of letting the Gulf States go.”

The War of 1861 settled the issue of secession through brute force that cost 600,000 American lives. We Americans celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, but H.L. Mencken correctly evaluated the speech: “It is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense.” Lincoln said the soldiers sacrificed their lives “to the cause of self-determination — that government of the people, by the people, for the people should not perish from the earth.” Mencken says: “It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of people to govern themselves.”

The War of 1861 brutally established that states could not secede. We are still living with its effects. Because states cannot secede, the federal government can run roughshod over the U.S. Constitution’s limitations of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. States have little or no response.