This is ridiculous and probably not something to laugh about. However, pardon me as I did get a little chuckle out of this. I’m talking about the ESPN reporter named Robert Lee who has been switched out of announcing a game at the University of Virginia (UVA) because of his name. Let’s reason this out a bit and try to think a little differently than the status quo and the media would like us too.
A short, just facts, recap so if this is read years from now, there can be a some perspective to it.
- Several organizations called for the statute of Robert E. Lee, erected in 1924, who was a Commander in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the Civil War to be removed.
- Officials of Charlottesville voted to remove it.
- A protest was scheduled in regards to the removal of a statue.
- There was a clash with counter demonstrators. One woman was killed.
- An ESPN report named Robert Lee, who is of Asian descent, was scheduled to announce the UVA’s home opener.
- Robert Lee, the announcer, was moved to another game because of the violence during the protest/counter protest.
Whether a statue should or should not be removed is a matter best determined either in courts or by vote. I hear and understand both sides. But the hard truth is, we can never removed all traces of slavery nor the Civil War. It just can’t happen. Let’s again take a look a the reality we have here.
Does anyone who would be upset by this guy’s name, know UVA’s history? Seriously folks, are people really this … uneducated!
The University was found by … Thomas Jefferson … that’s right folks. Jefferson owned several plantations which were worked by hundreds of slaves! Yet, he also defended slaves seeking their freedom. I guess you can choose which side you want him to be on to support your agenda then, huh? He signed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves in 1807. Buuuut, he wrote he did not believe blacks and whites could live together as free people in one society due to resentments. and he had, “long since given up the expectation of any early provision for the extinguishment of slavery among us.” He wrote, “I have most carefully avoided every public act or manifestation on that subject.” Read up on him, he bounced back and forth on slavery throughout his career.
Jefferson wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798. Do you know what they were? Well, they were papers with the position that the Alien and Sedition Acts were unconstitutional. A brief side note for those Anti Trump people: The Alien and Sedition acts were bills passed that made it hard for an immigrant to become a citizen allowing for imprison and deportation of non-citizens deemed dangerous. Hmmm sounds a bit like something our current President Trump might do. Oh, and Jefferson, along with James Madison kind of, sorta, started the Republican party. But really it was the Democratic-Republican party, but Jefferson used the name Republican more than Democratic. He tends to walk the line now doesn’t he? This seems more than enough for any Democrat to boycott any event happening at UVA, no?
Anywho … When the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 happened, the Resolutions were quoted to support the anti-slavery activists opposed to it. Read up on these folks, they played a significant role in kicking off the road to Civil War.
The property UVA sits on was owned by James Monroe. He was a supporter in the founding of the Colonies in Africa for freed slaves. Sounds like a good thing doesn’t it? Well, do your homework, it may have been good on one end, but the reason for founding it was most certainly not. He supported it because he didn’t want freed slaves to encourage southern slaves to rebel. He was a prominent land owner and slave holder. Read up on how he treated his slaves, he wasn’t the kindest. Monroe even had slaves serve him in the White House.
Monroe became Governor of Virginia. In 1800, there was a slave rebellion on a plantation in Richmond. Monroe called out the state militia to suppress the rebellion, the basis for the rebellion was to kidnap Monroe. Yet, he used his influence to gained a pardon and to sell off some slaves instead of hanging them. Still it is estimated between 26-35 people were hanged for treason.
I am not advocating for or against the statue at this point, however, I’d like to give a little comparison here.
Robert E Lee did serve in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Jefferson and Monroe were Governors of Virginia. Based on their past, we could surmise both Jefferson and Monroe would have served in some form during the Civil War and it is highly likely they would be Confederate. In many ways, they both contributed to the unrest leading up to the Civil War. But take note of what Lee wrote when he was offered the role of Major General in defense of Washington: “Mr. Blair, I look upon secession as anarchy. If I owned the four millions of slaves in the South I would sacrifice them all to the Union; but how can I draw my sword upon Virginia, my native state?”
Lee, as Jefferson and Monroe did, managed a large slave plantation, however, he inherited his.
Lee, as with Jefferson, seemed to be in conflict with slavery. His wife and mother worked to liberate slaves. They supported the slaves move to Colonies in Africa for freed slaves funded by Monroe. His wife and daughter set up an ILLEGAL school for slaves. He also petitioned slaveholders to allow slaves to volunteer for the Army. Yet, his troops captured free blacks for enslavement during raids. He too seemed to bounce around in his actions toward slavery, just as Jefferson did.
I’m just trying to show, one isn’t worse than the other. If one is offensive, then the other should be as well. No?
Interestingly enough, among public universities, UVA, has the highest African American graduation rate. Isn’t anyone bothered by the establishing of UVA by these two men? Isn’t anyone bothered by the fact they walk on lands worked by slaves? Do we tear down UVA? How do we get rid of the history which took place on the land? We can never cleanse our despicable past.
Let’s be educated people. Let’s reason things through. Let’s try to think differently so we can live differently. Let’s not rewrite history, let’s re-frame it so we can all learn from it.
Maybe we needed to add something instead of taking something away. What if under the statue or in place of the statue, we added a plaque with Robert E Lee’s words as he campaigned for reconciliation following the end of the Civil War:
“So far from engaging in a war to perpetuate slavery, I am rejoiced that slavery is abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interests of the South.”
Food for thought on both sides now isn’t it. Maybe it’s just me, but it would seem to represent the true tension felt. Who could protest then?
Reason it out.