Kirk Clyatt’s Statement To Charlottesville City Council – February 2, 2015

17 03 2015
Here is all it said in the City Council minutes about my appearance on February 2, 2015;

Mr. Kirk Clyatt, Charlottesville resident, 208 Meade Ave., said he is a son of the south and is proud of his southern heritage, but he says it is time to give up Lee Jackson Day.

Here is a transcription of my words. If you watch the video, you will further see how my words are also an expression of religious free speech.
Clyatt: Good evening mayor and council members, I am 56 years old and it is ironic that the Civil War is the first issue that I have ever spoke to a governmental body about.
Unlike most of the other speakers, I am a member of Charlottesville community.
Mayor: Your name and address please?
Clyatt: Oh excuse me, my name is Kirk Clyatt and I do live in Charlottesville unlike most of the other speakers that have addressed the council on this issue, 208 Meade Avenue.
And I’m a son of the south; I could easily qualify for the Sons of the Confederate Veterans. My Great-Grandfather was born in 1860 and he hid in a chicken coup as General Sherman’s army marched through the south.
I’m proud of my southern heritage however on my way home from work on Martin Luther King Day, I’m fortunate enough even with the high housing costs to be able to live in a very small place here in the city limits. I tweeted out on my Twitter account, “My ancestors were Confederate Soldiers, some died in battle in Virginia, but isn’t it time to give up Lee-Jackson Day? Hash-mark #MLK.”
Now you need to consider the history of the African-American in the North American continent. Slaves came in 1619 before the Pilgrims in 1620. The Emancipation Proclamation was 152 years ago, however, the salves, the African-Americans were slaves for 244 years, so for the majority of African-Americans history in North America they were held in bondage as slaves.
I had a chance back in the early ’90s to interview George Wallace in his later days, there were unveiling, I think, a statue of Lurleen on the grounds of the capitol in Montgomery and I found him to be a reformed elderly man, hard of hearing, anxious to talk about his time working on the bombers in World War Two, throwing chaff out of the airplane.
What struck me at that time was that every one of the caretakers there of George Wallace was an African-American … that was absolutely amazing.
In my lifetime, in 1964, there were 10,000 dues paying members of Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina.
In my lifetime it was a family event to go to a cross burning.
These were great generals that we are taking about here today, they need to be honored, but that honor can be part of Veteran’s Day.
What they did in support the cause of the war was economic domination, not only for money, for the plantation culture of the south which my family was part of, but the domination of one race to be 3/5ths of a human that is what they supported.
No place on earth are the losers of a war more venerated. The North may have won the war, but the South won the propaganda battle.
This holiday is one that does not honor my forefathers, does not honor the patriots that were my relatives that died as Confederate soldiers, this is a holiday that like Columbus Day needs to history and does not need to be part of this community.
Thank you very much.
Here is brief except from my book, Tangled Wires – that gives a little insight as to why making such a statement was important to me;

… When my mother brought me to Washington, DC I was about 4, I became largely a feral child and while living in the city one of my earliest memories was a sound of Africa … the late night roaring of lions at the National Zoo.

While living in South Carolina both of my grandmothers had black maids/nannies, I have very kind memories of Mary, much more so than of my own mother, who took care of me before leaving for Pittsburgh with her own child in search of a better life for her son who was not much older than I was, I hope she found it.

Once in Washington even as a very young child of four and five, I would wander the streets near The Park Crescent Apartments, they are still there, and play on the huge stairway next to the building … huge at least in eyes of a five year old. The crumbling old stairway led down to the basement. It was also where the ‘Fallout Shelter’ was. In the early 60s those yellow and black signs were a ubiquitous part of life. The building’s super would often let me into the shelter, I was amazed with the amount of supplies it held waiting for the bomb, but I never worried about the bomb that never came, maybe I didn’t grasp the concept? For me, it was a place where I listened to his stories, sometimes supers from other nearby buildings would stop by to tell of the journey of their lives. As a young white boy, I loved to listen, to hear about the path of their lives these black men told while we would dive into the supplies and enjoy what seemed an endless supply of tuna and crackers from the fallout shelter stash, at least a tiny part of all those cold war supplies weren’t totally wasted  … maybe its why canned tuna is still one of the staples of my diet?

In the heart of the Civil Rights movement, a 5 year old white boy whose ancestors all fought for the Confederacy to keep the forefathers of these men bound to slavery … and now did they not only look out for me and take care of me, but in DC were really the only family I had.

I have long forgotten their names, but I’ll never forget the warmth and care they gave to a young, lost and lonely child. …

I’m out of town Tuesday, but I will more than happy to address comments on Wednesday … thanks so much for reading my 1,000 words.
– Kirk



One response

26 03 2015
There Have Been Worse … March 26th NewsBlues Story | Kirk Clyatt's - Weathering The Storm

[…] February, Clyatt went before the Charlottesville City Council to speak briefly in opposition to Lee Jackson Day, a […]

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