TRANSCRIPT FROM CBS EVENING NEWS WITH DAN RATHER July 26, 2002 6:30PM EST BROADCAST
It's not easy being the Son of a Confederate Veteran these days. Battlefield reenactments - their speciality - are fewer and farther apart. State after state has banished the Stars and Bars battle flag. Now....there's a fight on for the very soul of the Sons organization.
Gilbert Jones, Member, Sons of Confederate Veterans: "You've got green beans, mashed potatoes, no gravy."
Greensboro, N.C. restaurant manager Gilbert Jones...a prominent member of the Sons...finds himself caught right in the middle.
Gilbert Jones, Member, Sons of Confederate Veterans: "I joined because it's a historical organization. Most of the guys joined for the same reason I did. They're interested in history, their heritage."
So it pained him, Jones said...to discover that the Sons themselves had been invaded.
Gilbert Jones, Member, Sons of Confederate Veterans: "I told them it was time to take the Neo-Nazis and the White Supremists and the Aryan Nation Boys and show their butts to the door. There's just no room in our group for that.
Jones remarks are aimed at this man....Kirk Lyons, who is running for a top spot in the Sons organization. Lyons has some long ties to racial extremists...including David Duke...who shared the dias when Lyons had this to say during a recent speech.
Kirk Lyons, Candidate, Sons of Confederate Veterans: "We seek nothing more than a return to a Godly, stable, tradition-based society with no 'Northern-isms' attached to it; a hierarchical society, a majority European-derived country that will make peace and a fair accord with all it's non-European derived neighbors."
Lyons declined our request to comment on that comment, or his campaign...while Gilbert Jones called it the code talk of a racist.
Gilbert Jones, Member, Sons of Confederate Veterans: "The lunatic fringe is taking over. It gives us a bad image. I don't want to be associated with that. I can't afford to be associated with that. My children are members."
And so are 32,000 other Americans....many in church, education and Congress, including Sens. Trent Lott and Jesse Helms. And that makes this fued more than a fight over just one man's views. It is a fight, some argue, for control of a platform that has enjoyed national legitmacy for 106 years.
Mark Potok, Southern Poverty Law Center: "This is seen very much as a prize by the White Supremists right."
Mark Potack and the Southern Poverty Law Center have followed and extensively written about the Neo-Confederate movement and the Sons organization...also known as the SCV.
Mark Potok, Southern Poverty Law Center: "If this faction takes over SCV I think it's a dead certainty that we will see the organization turn into a real political work - to the business of creating and breeding white nationalist quote-unquote "activists."
A possibility that astounds Gilbert Jones....who traces his own roots back to his great, great grandfather, who served four years in A.P. Hill's Division.
Gilbert Jones, Member, Sons of Confederate Veterans: "I'm sure a lot of people didn't realize what was happening. As Southeners, we're way too polite."
And now stand a chance of seeing an organization dedicated to the memory of their long dead kin....make some unpleaseant history of its own. In Washington, this is Jim Stewart CBS News Washington