Descendant of Robert E. Lee speaks at ECU

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – On Monday, East Carolina University hosted Reverend Robert W. Lee IV to speak at Hendrix Theatre on campus.

Rev. Lee is the collateral descendant of General Robert E. Lee, but his views are seen as far different.

The Statesville native was recently thrust into the spotlight when he spoke out against white supremacy in the Charlottesville rallies.

Lee said, “I think the thing that blows my mind about this is that talking about race in a constructive way is controversial.”

Lee was dropped as the pastor of his church after he came out in support of black lives matter and tearing down Confederate monuments.

He now spends his time speaking across the country in an effort to unite people around the idea that issues with race can be a thing of the past.

“We go through our daily lives, we go to school or work, wherever we are and we don’t talk about race,” said Lee. “We kind of keep it to ourselves or if it’s out in the open and a racist comment that someone makes, we’re not willing to engage that person and find out why racism is there in the first place because suddenly that becomes controversial.”

Lee primarily spoke on the relationship between race, politics, and religion.

“I think the relationship between millennials and the church is very fractured,” said Lee. “If you look at how the church is responding to issues of gun violence, to LGBTQ rights, to the way we handle white supremacy here in North Carolina, and in the south, and in northern Virginia, it’s a real fractured relationship.”

Lee said the church has to step back and re-evaluate how it’s treating people.

He compared the generation of millennials to that of the 60’s.

“During the 60’s a lot of people had to call the church to be itself again,” said Lee. “To be the prophetic edge of the church Dr. King talked about.”

Baring a name that makes people feel one way or another, this Lee is focused on starting a conversation for a greater good.

“I think those are things that we need to talk about,” said Lee. “How are we going to engage each other in such a way that we have a healthy dialogue? That we know that there is a possibility for change. I haven’t given up on humanity yet.”

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