Over the past few months, there has been a swarm of controversy regarding the racial divide in this country. Recently, there was a major uproar in Charlottesville, Virginia, after White Supremacists rallied vehemently to support the cause of “getting their land back.” This resulted in a brief presser from President Donald Trump, but heavy criticism following what seemed to be justification and a lack of stern disapproval. This came from Trump’s comment that violence was “on many sides,” taking a few days to clear it up, then going back to the former stance at a later speech.
Supporters of the “on many sides” comment also credit the actions of many people who support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, which originated by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi as a call to action following the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012.
According to the Founders, “Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.” While some view this as an exclusive movement that has similar qualities as white supremacists, others view this as a cry for racial equality in America.
During the Charlottesville riots, controversial figure General Robert E. Lee’s statue was a subject of importance. In addition to his comments on the riots, many others were utterly dissatisfied on Trump’s stance to keep Lee’s statue erected.
To some, Lee is a bold military leader who was ambitious in his tasks. To others, he is the bloodiest general in American history, who opposed slavery while possessing slaves.
Lee once stated:
“I think it however a greater evil to the white than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence.”
Statements like this is what sparks opposition from the black community. However, a descendant of his has made it vocal that he supports the BLM movement.
Lee’s distant nephew, Rev. Robert W. Lee IV, was a subject of great controversy from his congregation members after supporting the BLM movement during his introduction of Heather Heyer’s mother at the MTV Video Music Awards. Heyer was killed after protesting against a demonstration by White Supremacists rallying around a Robert E. Lee statue.
As a result of the negative backlash from his church, Lee IV decided to resign from his position as pastor of Bethany United Church of Christ in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
According to CBS News, Lee IV stated about this decision, “A faction of church members were concerned about my speech and that I lifted up Black Lives Matter movement, the Women’s March, and Heather Heyer as examples of racial justice work.” Lee IV had no regrets about his statements, and also tweeted about if he would say it again.
Lee IV was recently interviewed by WUNC 91.5 about his remarks. He stated that he is not concerned about finding a job, but instead, “for the persons of color who might not get the call back or the job offer. Who may not get the opportunity to have a job, simply because of the color of their skin.” He added that he wants to use his privilege as a white male to cause awareness to racial equality, particularly in the workplace.