Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Awards ebbed and flowed with memorable performances of the summer’s hottest anthems. But per the nature of nearly every award show since November 8, things got political.
Reverend Robert W. Lee IV, the fourth great nephew of confederate general and former slave Robert E. Lee made an appearance at the awards show. The reverend spoke on the stage in Inglewood, California alongside Susan Bro, the mother of the late Heather Heyer who died while counter-protesting the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. The planned removal of Lee’s statue was alleged to be at the center of the violent rally.
“We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy, racism and hate,” the pastor said. “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,” he continued.
Lee, a pastor at Bethany-United Christ of Church in Winstom-Salem and adjunct professor at Appalachian State University, was the subject of media attention following the Charlottesville rally.
“It broke my heart seeing a symbol of my family being used to allow such hate,” Lee told HuffPost early August. “All in the name of what my relative stood for.”
Lee himself declared the statue of his ancestor should be removed.
“These statues have morphed into a symbol of racism, a symbol of bigotry, a symbol of the alt-right, a symbol of white nationalist movements,” he said. “That is not okay and that can never be celebrated or honored in any way, whether you believe you should honor legacy or ancestors or not.”