The Rev. Robert Lee IV talks changing the legacy of his ancestor Gen. Robert E. Lee

A descendant of the Confederate general called for other religious leaders to stand up against racist symbols.
8:38 | 09/11/17

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Transcript for The Rev. Robert Lee IV talks changing the legacy of his ancestor Gen. Robert E. Lee
My name is Robert Lee before it. I'm a descendant of Robert. 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 stand. It's awful when he returned to his parish and not Salina. His call for unity and healing was met with a bit of the backlash that made it walk away from that pulpit. He's here today to share his start welcome abstract painting said. Oh yeah it's great great great. Great nephew of confederate general Rodney Lee you're born and raised in the south. Why did you decide to speak out against these confederate monuments. Well after Charlottesville my heart was broken. Com. I had the opportunity to meet Susan bro and I was at the MTV V amaze and and it was one of those things that with heard pleasing her daughter I just had to say something that. Because if you're silent Tom if your silent in these issues you've become complicit in these issues. And complicity is not something I stand for. That's right so you speak out. And what to say it goes goes viral in a weekly U resigning. As pastor of your church. So what happened. Well I can't speak for the church I can actually speak for myself but what I do know is bit. It's hard to stand for something my grandmother would tell migrate criminal always tell me if you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything. And I had to stand up and say this is what I believe in an ominous standby. Probably yeah. Out here that your church. For -- but we've had no luck getting hold of them. I'm really confused here though I don't understand how the church which is you know beacon of compassion. Could reject you when you stood up for what I would say eBay should be applauding you for your berg supposed to be in because of watch and I that I guess I'm nine eat because I just assumed that's what you find in a church. The idea that they rejected you when you came back I get I I I donors the end. Well look I resigned because of it. But but I do know something that's true about the church white christianity isn't having trouble dealing with what's going on in our nation today. We're having trouble talking about these issues of race a reconciliation of red reparations and redemption. And we lead we have trouble finding the vocabulary to speak about these issues. But I want it to be said of me that there was a Lian history who stood up for something that was right instead of a general Lee who stood up for something. Grabbed me. Charlotte well. After Charlotte's lead gave a sermon and you said this if you are silent at a moment like this if you do not condemn the racism you see through whatever channels and avenues you have. You can leave church now because you're doing church wrong. Are you saying that those who want to keep politics out of the pulpit are doing church wrong. What say that the pulpit is inherently political. Com I looked to the black church tradition and I see in that tradition. That the AME church I had an opportunity to preach and heard AME church in New Jersey yesterday. And Tom we all agreed bit. Politics is part of the pole but. Because for so long the black churches had to deal with politics through the pulpit. So I see this is a way of combating. Bomb racism and white privilege and might supremacy in the best way that I know how through life opens. And I want to get back to be on the all of these monuments and the argument that I hear from many people are against it is it's a slippery slope and they say you know ten of our first twelve presidents were slave owner earns. And I I hear both sides in that respect I'm very sensitive about the issue of the monuments but. What happens if people start calling for everything to be removed it are you worried about where this could lead in terms of removal of aspects of our history that we're just plain part of our history that are that. We mentioned the slippery slip I think we're already on the slippery slope right I mean we're if we're if we're engaging in building monuments and if we realize the context of the monuments. There were built before 1950 yen as as a sign of white supremacy. Mom I think you can contextualize the monuments than it's important to realize. Those monuments have to have more context more more understanding because that's the slippery slip that will be on if we don't address. The senate did everything that this keeps coming up this conversation that you just prop it seems to me that Robert. So there are there treatments treasonous behavior is not the same as George Washington so not tempered Benedict Arnold statue out their data so that that's the real point of it as an. And I think also one of the things that you have to remember is if you look in Europe you don't have statues to the fascists. The you know got you have the Oreo what happened. There are more than a hundred historical markers with or great uncle's name there are property of these schools parks bridges. In Europe and said they all come much of the Amy Berg moved off of all of those things I do because I think about it this way album. My white child may not have trouble going to you that school. But a black child night yeah and these schools that were talking. Persons of color communities and that's concerning to me like what would it mean for me to go to school with the person is his name that. My ancestors may have been Obama. Com you know that that speaks a lot about what we're saying as a nation right now it's a look at it so I could give it. So why are you honoring these yeah you hear the same way about the confederate flag does that include the compare like. Well I must confess that you near growing up I even had a confederate flag in my. Real and growing up because I was proud of Robert. In that it took people are calling out my privilege as a white person as the whites it's gender male. And saying you have to confront your own privilege and I looked to my confirmation and towards earth the Hamilton. Who told me you know. As a person of color you have to accept and love everybody and engage in your privileged and she did that so well that it may need to the Flag Day take the flagged down. And so that's for me it's a personal endeavor to take those flags and as monuments in the school names off of what matters. I think some of the young kid you you you take something in not quite grasping the context of what it symbolized. So innocent leave fallen mind thinking oh this is it's cool right. Oh but what parents Amaya a confirmation mentors in my church it back home always taught me. That we have to treat people with respect and with dignity and if we can't do that and we're not being church and all. That's fine. Out almost could go back to church again. Talks not renounce its I exists. I mean this is what it's photos assure our exists at I didn't think he's sorry it does church Wright had never stopped talking. We have edition that narrative right that we have to say that there's a different way of doing church yes that is not what we once thought it was you've got all all kinds of people in the news search supposedly church leaders. Well let's get some church leaders in the news we're doing christianity right right. I didn't. That yeah. That I am Catholic and Christian and christianity has somehow become up bad word. I think has become a downward because we've done it to ourselves right you know. We we we hear Steve Bannon talking about stuff like that about you illegal aliens and people are people they're not illegal guy you know that's the thing we have forever. This conversation in such a way that we're saying this is not the church that I know I know he's Jesus and his liberating and offering us. Anytime you could come back any time. Anytime a late thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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