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Hervey funeral draws large crowd

In life, Anthony Hervey was a controversial and colorful character.

However, his funeral, held Sunday at First Baptist Church, was subdued, somber and to some, a sign of hope.

“No one could do what Anthony Hervey did,” said Willis N. Dabbs, who gave the message of comfort and performed the closing prayer. “He brought together groups of people that conventional wisdom tells us can’t be brought together.”

Hervey was killed June 19 after the car he was driving overturned on Highway 6, after returning from Birmingham, Alabama, from a Confederate flag rally.

Hervey was a black American who loved everything about the South, including the Confederate flag. He was often seen sitting under the Confederate statue on the Square with protest signs or speaking on campus about the reasons for poverty. At times, he even dressed as a Confederate soldier. He was known by many as the “Black Rebel.” He argued against welfare, Affirmative Action, the loss of Southern traditions and the notion that the Civil War was about slavery.

He enraged people; sometimes to the points punches were thrown. Some agreed with his views, like the Sons of Confederate Veterans who came out in droves Sunday.

A few attended the funeral, but many more participated in a “parade” down North Lamar Boulevard, around the Square and back, ending at the old fire station at the corner of Price Street and North Lamar. Some walked, caring Confederate flags. Others were dressed in costumes from the Civil War-era or as Confederate soldiers. Cars sported vehicles tags from Texas to Tennessee, to Arkansas to Kentucky.

It was there that Hervey’s widow, Paula, was presented the flag that covered his casket, a Confederate flag.

“Anthony didn’t see the flag as a symbol of oppression, he saw it as one of freedom, freedom from government control,” Dabbs said at the funeral.

Dabbs read from Hervey’s self-published book, “Why I wave the Confederate flag: Written by a Black Man.”

“I am an American who questions,” Dabbs said, reading Hervey’s words.

Pastor George Newman said it was time to eradicate hatred.

“We have come to a day and age where we must come together in unity,” Newman said. “There will be a day when we can separate the hatred and bring only the love.”

Arlene Barnum, of Stuart, Oklahoma, attended the funeral Sunday. Hervey was driving her vehicle when they rolled over. She suffered minor injuries. She told Mississippi Highway Patrol troopers that she and Hervey were being chased by a silver van with about five black males, causing Hervey to speed up and lose control. MHP has closed its investigation into the actual crash but is still asking anyone with information regarding the presence of the silver vehicle to contact MHP.

“This is just amazing, for a lack of a better word. I’m just overwhelmed,” she said Sunday of the funeral and parade for Hervey. “When I die, this is the kind of funeral I want.”

Paul Alford of Horn Lake attended the funeral in support of Hervey but admitted he had never met him.

“When someone loses their life for honoring our flag, I had to make an effort to be here to honor him,” Alford said.