If you drove through Central Park in King Saturday morning you were met with rows of trucks, roaring engines and towering confederate flags. An estimated 200 people attended the confederate rally, the largest local ride according to organizers Jerry Cooper and Cody Hall.
“There’s usually around 20 trucks but we’re expecting over 100 today,” Cooper said. “I’m from the South and grew up with the flag. We don’t find it offensive. We’re not racist and we don’t condone that. We tell everybody before we start our rides this is a peaceful ride and we’re not here to cause any trouble.”
Cooper said the response he’s seen on the road has been positive for the most part.
“We even have some black people ride with us,” he said. “We tell everybody that they might cuss you out or flip you off but just don’t say nothing. Keep riding, smile and wave.”
Richard Webster from Tobaccoville stayed busy Saturday selling confederate flags, magnets, stickers, and t-shirts. He’s also a supporter of the cause and participates in local rallies.
“There’s a lot of blood been lost because of that flag,” he said. “Most of the guys are here because of the flag and their ancestors and not because of anything bad. They just want to show their support for the flag and not be bothered.”
Veteran Glenn Cheek added, “You can’t change history, that’s a matter of fact and that flag didn’t have nothing to do with slavery. Some people just don’t know their history. I’m proud of my heritage.”
While most shared the same sentiments on Saturday, longtime community coach Patrick Simmons did not.
“As a black man, it’s a little troubling to be honest,” he said. “I’m a people person and I’d like to see people come together. Anything that’s divisive does not help our country and does not help our county.”
Simmons believes there are more important issues worth discussing.
“Our economy is in ruins. They’re having to close schools down in Stokes for lack of money. Some of these people that have so much to complain about, if they dropped two or three dollars in a bucket our school would probably still be open,” he said.
“Most black people I know see that flag and they don’t like it,” Simmons said.
“Do you want to go back to that time and place when that flag reined in the south? I don’t. It wasn’t so great for a lot of people.”
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.