The Asheville Citizen-Times reported on December 19 that Edgerton, who describes himself as President of the local NAACP Branch, is working with Lyons because he does not have money to challenge the City of Asheville's housing practices. One of Edgerton's own vice presidents said in the article that he knew nothing about it. The State NAACP Executive Director based in Greensboro said in the article that the State office must approve any suit and that they too had heard nothing about it. Another local NAACP Vice President said in the article, "The big question is why does he (Edgerton) keep associating himself with these people?...We don't have to go to the Klan to get lawyers. We have lawyers that fight the Klan. I'm really tired of him misusing this organization."
The legitimacy of Edgerton using the title of President is questionable since WNCCEIB has learned that the fall election that should have taken place has not been held and members may be withholding payment of dues. Moreover, according to the State office, the officers of the Asheville NAACP Branch are suspended "until further notice" for non-payment of branch dues.
Edgerton and Lyons created controversy on March 28, 1998 when the Asheville Citizen-Times printed a picture of Lyons, Lyons' assistant Neil Payne and Edgerton wearing hood-mimicking napkins on their heads and joking about the KKK. The Citizen-Times editorialized that Edgerton was discrediting himself, the NAACP, and everyone who had been a victim of the KKK. The paper, which has a Black publisher, called for Edgerton to step down but he refused.
Lyons does not have a license to practice law in North Carolina but does have a license for Texas. No local
lawyer has been identified as being associated with Lyons at this writing.
UPDATE: In January 1999, the State Office of the NAACP held a re-organization meeting of the Asheville Branch. New elections resulted in H.K. Edgerton being defeated for President. By April of 1999, the new President and new Board of the revitalized Branch had gotten out of debt and regained much community support and credibility. Lyons and Edgerton were last reported traveling together to Maryville, Tennesee on March 23 to support keeping the Confederate flag at a local high school after a Black doctor complained to the US Department of Education.
UPDATE:On October 19, 1999, H.K. Edgerton picketed the Asheville Branch of the NAACP carrying a Confederate flag and a sign saying "Heritage Not Hate." Edgerton has continued appearing with Lyons to promote the Confederate flag. See photo from October 20, 1999 Asheville Citizen-Times "advisor", H.K. Edgerton
Given Kirk Lyons' past statements and his not renouncing his past views and associations with white supremacists, his working on minority housing issues in Asheville, NC is raising eyebrows.
In an April 19, 1992 interview with the Raleigh News & Observer, Lyons said that he wanted to be the President of the Republic of Texas and, the paper continues, Texas would be a predominantly white state with European institutions, he says, but he might "permit a small minority population to live within its borders. 'I like other culture,' he explains. 'I don't want to have to go to China to eat Chinese food."
Moreover, on the March 18, 1993 Sally Jesse Raphael Show entitled "White Collar Racists", Lyons proposed divvying up the country among the races and defended his white separatists views. He also offered to leave the country is someone would give him $300,000.
In a letter to the Asheville Citizen-Times on March 13, 1993, Lyons wrote that Black History month "frankly touts a great deal of white-bashing and Afro-centric nonsense.'
Lyons was married by the head of the Christian Identity church in the Aryan Nations compound in Hayden Lake Idaho. That distorted form of Christianity sees whites as the chosen people of God and all others as less than human "mud people."; Lyons' best man was Lois Beam, former Grand Dragon of the Texas KKK.
Lyons' also raised money for White Aryan Resistance leader Tom Metzger's legal defense in a civil suit arising out of the murder ofan Ethiopian student in Oregon;
Lyons was named organizer for a demonstration at the dedication of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. and has spoken at Holocaust-denial type conferences in Europe and this country.
Lyon's was named one of ten national leaders in the white supremacy movement by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 1991 in its special report, The KKK: History of Racism and Violence.
Lyons says in the December 19,1998 Asheville Citizen-Times article that his new organization, the Southern Legal Resource Center (SLRC),is "absolutely mainstream. We have no race agenda We're not a white separatist group. We are a civil rights law firm."
For more on Lyons' background see other Memos on this web page.
In a December 19, 1998 Asheville Citizen-Times article, Asheville NAACP President, H.K. Edgerton, whose title has been suspended by the NC NAACP, said the reason he turned to Lyons is, "Money. Everything is about money."
Lyons may have similar concerns. In July 1998, he moth-balled the CAUSE Foundation and wrote a somewhat bitter letter to supporters saying that it was costing him more to mail out the newsletter than it raised. Also, in the SLRC letter to Edgerton, as reported in the same December 19, 1998 article, Lyons expects the local NAACP Branch to help the SLRC raise funds to cover costs arising from the suit. In a December letter copied to WNCCEIB, Lyons asked the Black Mountain Dr. Martin Luther King breakfast organization for a $2500 grant and an opportunity to speak at the King breakfast. (UPDATE The Black Mountain King Breakfast Committee politely declined Lyons' requests pointing to his own background and Edgerton's controversial tenure as President of the NAACP.)
Beyond money, Lyons appears concerned about the credibility of his new organization, the Southern Legal Resource Center(SLRC). Because of Lyons' white supremacy associations, some members of the Georgia branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans(SCV) are trying to get their organization to disassociate itself from Lyons. A $1000 contribution to the SLRC approved at the Georgia SCV state convention in June 1998 was later rescinded according to SCV officials. The SCV's internal controversy over Lyons is documented in an AP story that appeared in the Charlotte Observer September 13, 1998 headlined, "Large heritage group's membership split over N.C. lawyer's links to hate"
Lyons says in that article that protecting Southern heritage is a cause "closer to my heart," and promised to fight "to protect his practice."
Unfortunately, for Lyons, until he convincingly renounces his past associations and statements, he is unlikely to persuade the wider public that his interest in "Southern Heritage" is simply historical.
Just as he has used his association with a Black man's suit against the Hendersonville (NC) police for brutality to demonstrate his broad-minded approach, Lyons is likely to tout this association with the NAACP (as unrepresentative of the entire chapter as Edgerton's actions may be) as an indication of his middle-of-the-road, civil rights agenda. WNCCEIB concludes that given Lyons' past statements about the value of working underground, the evidence suggests that H. K. Edgerton and the NAACP's name are being used. And, concerning the Asheville Fair Housing Alliance, WNCCEIB concludes "buyer beware."
Click here for additional information on the moth-balling of CAUSE and the emergence of the Southern Legal Resource Center (SLRC)