Opinion

NAACP to Lee County: ‘Racist’ Robert E. Lee portrait must go

RE Lee-fullThe president of the Lee County, Fla. chapter of the NAACP has petitioned the Lee County Commission to remove a portrait of Gen. Robert E. Lee, claiming it symbolizes racism.

The painting that the NAACP’s James Muwakkil finds so offensive has hung in the Lee County Commission chambers for years. The county was named for the late military hero 22 years after the close of the war between the states, according to The Washington Times.

“That painting is a symbol of racism. It’s a symbol of divisiveness, and it doesn’t unify Lee County. It divides Lee County,” Muwakkil said in a letter, the Fort Meyers News-Press reported.

Muwakkil’s petition will force a public hearing on the issue, according to Commissioner Larry Kiker.

“I would be looking for thoughtful conversation based upon the historical value and why it was put there to begin with, mainly because I don’t know too much about it,” Kiker told the News-Press.

Virginia assisted Lee County in obtaining a suitable Lee painting — in 1939, according to the News-Press.

Lee’s position with the Confederate Army had nothing to do with his position on slavery, and everything to do with his loyalty to Virginia.

In an 1856 letter to his wife, Lee wrote, (ACCORDING TO WHAT SOURCE)“In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country.”

He also supported the efforts of his wife and daughter to maintain an illegal school for slaves on their plantation and petitioned slave owners to allow slaves to volunteer for the army, saying he could make soldiers out of any human being with arms and legs, according to Wikipedia.

Despite Lee’s history, every now and then the local NAACP chapter petitions the county to take some action regarding the painting. The last time was in 2007, when it asked the commission to hang a painting of President Abraham Lincoln near Lee’s. The measure failed.

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