Proponents of black Confederates can claim p.c. motives—recognizing the wartime South's diversity—while advancing what, for many, is an un-p.c. message: namely, that if blacks supported the Cause, it couldn't have been so bad.
Southern Cultures: So, how did you get interested in this business of black Confederates?
Tony Horwitz: I kept hearing about them wherever I went while researching my book. “Black Confederates” has become something of a mantra in certain southern circles. At Sons of Confederate Veterans meetings, there would be talk of erecting a monument to black Confederates. During the debate over [black tennis player] Arthur Ashe’s statue on Monument Avenue [in Richmond], southern heritage groups proposed honoring black Confederates instead. And every time the rebel flag came up, someone was sure to say, “Well, what about black Confederates? Why don’t we hear more about them?” After a while I became curious to know whether there was any substance to this, and why it had become such a fad.