Rev. Robert W. Lee IV was as perfect of a person to speak following the Charlottesville protests as anyone. If his name didn’t already give it away, Lee is a descendant of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee. 

“We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy, racism and hate,” Lee said in his speech at the MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 27. “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.”

Lee’s correct. His ancestor, who didn’t even want any monuments to the Confederacy to be erected, has become a go-to symbol for white supremacy in this country. If anyone has a right to saying this is inappropriate, it should be someone who shares his name and blood. However, this isn’t where Lee’s speech ended.

“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,” he went on to say.

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THAT’S where the problems started to arise. As a new minister at the Bethany United Church of Christ in Winston-Salem, N.C., Lee returned home to find out that members of the parish weren’t comfortable with his actions. As a result, he resigned from his position.

“Sometimes when you speak out against injustice, the cost can be great,”  he told the Telegraph about how he was then asked to resign. He also noted that some members of the congregation supported his speech, but not the level of attention they felt it would bring.

“There was a small faction of the church that came to me and said they were not comfortable with me speaking about these issues, and the media attention,” Lee said.

While sharing his beliefs with the world may have cost him his job, Lee still stands firm on his beliefs.

“We have to speak up against these issues, and say them as they are,” he said.

“Black lives do matter. In rural America some people view these movements differently than I view them. I think it’s a dangerous narrative being told in that part of the US who say that Black Lives Matter are terrorists, and I don’t believe that.”

Despite his family legacy, it appears that Lee will continue to work as an ally to the Black Lives Matter movement. While his own church basically banished him, the future looks bright as he’s received support from other sources.

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