Despite the Lies: Robert E. Lee Was a Real Brutal Racist
This past week turned out to be the most exciting in terms of progress against racist symbols as the Northeast School District voted unanimously to remove the name of Robert E. Lee from the high school, and at San Antonio City Hall the city council voted 10 to 1 to remove the racist confederate statue at Travis Park. These events were accomplished after a long struggle which came with numerous protests. At the city level, District 2 City Councilman William Shaw and District 1 City Councilman Robert Trevino put together a “Council Consideration Request,”on July 25, 2017, to relocate the statue out of public view.
These two struggles had been going on for about two years, and unfortunately former mayor, Ivy Taylor, opposed the idea and the school board was originally just as shortsighted. Across the country dozens of cities, universities, school boards, counties, and others had enough insight to recognize that these symbols of hatred, racism, segregation, and false history were flash points for protest. Progressive elected officials soon began to realize that famous racist groups like the KKK, the neo-Nazis, the Texans Freedom Force, and various neo-confederate groups would soon turn violent to protect their symbols of hatred.
Locally, yours truly and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Tommy Calvert Jr. led the charge at the Bexar County Court House and supported the first rally at Travis Park. At the school board level, a young student named Kayla Wilson led the charge of the student movement two years ago. She is one of San Antonio’s heroes. Those politicians that ran around for years claiming the protests don’t work, or that protesting was outdated were walloped in the face as thousands across the country have brought back the protest movement. After two long years, and outdated politicians, the school board and the city finally got the message. To the credit of the Councilman William Shaw his courage and promise to remove the statue was forthright as was the new Mayor Ron Nirenberg.
The youth of our city, from the Move organization, from the Black Lives Matter affiliate, and dozens of high school students and university and college students helped with the effort. Rev. Otis Mitchell, of Mt Zion First Baptist, Rev. Herman Price, Pastor James Amerson, Rev. Jerry Daily, President of the CCSA (Community of Churches for Social Action), NAACP President Oliver Hill, Cassandra Littlejohn representing Pastor Claudette and Bishop David Copeland all helped. Native Americans from the Texas Indigenous Council, members of Travis Park Methodist Church, members from the First Unitarian Church, the Brown Berets, the LBGT community, the Esperanza Center, and other Hispanic organizations supported the cause. The list goes on and on.
At the city council meeting of August 31st, William “Cruz” Shaw gave one of the best speeches ever delivered explaining that racists from the neo-confederate movement had sent him threatening emails and called him the N-word. These threats did not deter the councilman. Mayor Ron Nirenberg also gave a great speech, and the city moved to take the statue out that very night. The statue was surrounded by fencing and was dismantled after 12 midnight. The Texas Freedom Force, a gun-toting mob of racists, patrolled around the perimeter the whole time the issue was going on and made threats against people. The local confederate cemetery association was utterly destroyed as a result of these scoundrels jumping into the fray. The murder of Heather Heyer in the Virginia, by a white supremacist terrorist,galvanized the movement, and city after city began removing these racist symbols.
For over a hundred years the confederate ancestors of the Civil War have sought to invent history with these symbols. According to the Express News, “Brandon Burkhart — who lists himself as vice president of the organization ‘This Is Texas Freedom Force, a group that is protectors of all things Texas…fighting for Texas & Texans (sic) rights’ — alleged that by voting to remove the statue, ‘the council caved to special interest projects’ that he described as ‘a small group of racist (sic)’ . . . ‘Don't get comfortable in your City Council seat though, we are coming to unseat you and your fellow Councilmen Trevino & the Mayor come hell or high water,’ Burkhart wrote.” Racist groups like this can’t unseat anybody in San Antonio, maybe in a tiny town in East Texas!
The Express News went on to report that Mayor Ron Nirenberg said, “Whether people are celebrating the removal of the statue or mourning it, now is the time to refocus our efforts on being good neighbors. There is big difference between glorifying the Confederacy and displaying the artifacts of history in a proper context,” he said. ‘We will have that conversation in the near future and can talk then about the differences between statues honoring men for their commitment to Democracy and the founding of our nation and those erected to honor men solely for their dedication to an immoral and indefensible cause.’”