Anthony Hervey, 49, who some affectionately called “The Black Redneck,” was driving on a highway in northern Mississippi near his hometown of Oxford when another vehicle carrying four or five young black men pulled up alongside them, yelling and looking angry, Arlene Barnum, a passenger in the vehicle told the Associated Press. She said Hervey then “yelled something back at the other vehicle before losing control and crashing.”
Barnum recounted that the 2005 Ford Explorer they were riding in “spun like crazy and we flipped, flipped, flipped. It was awful.”
“I could have sworn that [the men in the other car] knew him because of his reaction to them,” Barnum told the Associated Press.
The day before, Hervey had spoken at a rally at Birmingham’s Linn Park in favor of preserving a Civil War Confederate monument there, and was driving home when the accident happened.
In his 2006 book, Why I Wave the Confederate Flag, Written by a Black Man, he wrote that the Civil War was not fought over slavery and that he was supporting black soldiers who fought for the South.
In 2001, when controversy arose regarding Mississippi including the Confederate “Stars and Bars” on the state flag, he spoke in its defense, telling the AP: “This is not racism. This is my heritage.”
Hervey stirred controversy in Oxford, often speaking in the town square or on the Ole Miss University campus. The former dean of students at Ole Miss, Sparky Reardon, credits him with causing the university to change its policies to greater recognize the exercise of First Amendment rights.
“He was a master at street theater. He and some of the evangelical preachers we’ve had here really know how to draw a crowd and provoke a crowd. He wasn’t prejudiced. He made everybody mad,” Reardon told theClarion-Ledger.
“It was a shock and pain when I learned he’d been killed. As contentious as it might have seemed, Anthony and I really had a great relationship. It took a black man in a confederate uniform to get us to reconsider where we were and I think we’re a much better campus now because of it,” the former dean observed.
The AP reported that authorities would not comment yet on what role the other vehicle may have had in causing the crash.
h/t: Allen B. West
BCN editor’s note: This article first appeared at Western Journalism.