In a curious turn of events, a descendant of Confederate archtraitor General Robert E. Lee has decided to resign from his post as pastor of a North Carolina church because he spoke out against white supremacy.
Rev. Robert Wright Lee IV of the Bethany United Church of Christ felt it was important to take a stand against white supremacy ideals that animate the veneration of his ancestor that led to the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virgina during the “Unite The Right” hate rally.
So when MTV invited him to speak at the Video Music Awards in Los Angeles, Lee jumped at the chance – and very bravely used his speech to lift up the Black Lives Matter movement, the Women’s March, and celebrate the life of Heather Heyer.
“My name is Robert Lee IV, I’m a descendant of Robert E. Lee, the Civil War general whose statue was at the center of violence in Charlottesville. We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy, racism, and hate. As a pastor, it is my moral duty to speak out against racism, America’s original sin.
Today, I call on all of us with privilege and power to answer God’s call to confront racism and white supremacy head-on. We can find inspiration in the Black Lives Matter movement, the women who marched in the Women’s March in January, and, especially, Heather Heyer, who died fighting for her beliefs in Charlottesville.”
When he got home, however, the reaction from his flock of so-called Christians was not a happy one. In his resignation letter, he details how he had to deal with backlash from the racists in his parish, and how he felt his efforts to fight white supremacy could be better served elsewhere.
“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… the church’s reaction was deeply hurtful to me.
Most importantly I do not want this episode to be a distraction from the sacred work of confronting white supremacy in all its forms. My calling and my vocation has led me to speak out against violence and oppression in any form, and I want to especially challenge white Christians in America to take seriously the deadly legacy of slavery in our country and commit ourselves to follow Jesus into a time of deep reflection, repentance and reconciliation.
We applaud Rev. Wright Lee for doing the right thing and dedicating his life to atoning for the sins of his ancestors, and shame on his parish for growing upset at an endorsement of Black Lives Matter.
Watch his MTV speech here:
— MTV (@MTV) August 28, 2017