Robert E. Lee Descendant Speaks Out Against Racism During MTV Video Music Awards

Sunday night’s MTV Music Video Awards wasn’t just a night filled with a bunch of people you probably never heard of winning awards and Katy Perry attempting to be funny. The show used its platform to address racism and enlisted the help of Robert Lee IV, a descendant of Robert E. Lee, the Civil War general whose statue was used as a reason for white supremacists to riot in Charlottesville, Va.


Lee spoke out against racism and everything his ancestor stood for.

“We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy, racism and hate,” said Lee. “As a pastor, 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.”

Lee also went on to show support to the Black Lives Matter movement and the Women’s March before introducing Heather Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, to the audience. Heyer was killed in Charlottesville when an enraged white supremacist charged through a crowd with his car.

“Only 15 days ago, my daughter was killed as she protested racism,” she said with strength. “I miss her, but I know she’s here tonight.

“I want people to know Heather never marched alone,” Bro added. “She was always joined by people from every race and every background in this country.”

Bro went on to announce the Heather Heyer Foundation, a nonprofit that will provide scholarships to “help more people join Heather’s fight against hatred,” as her mother said.


After Bro’s and Lee’s speeches, MTV’s new Best Fight Against the System award winners were revealed: Logic, featuring Damian Lemar Hudson, for “Black SpiderMan” (in the race-and-LGBTQ category); The Hamilton Mixtape for “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” (the immigration category); Big Sean for “Light” (the race category); Alessia Cara for “Scars to Your Beautiful” (for body image); Taboo, featuring Shailene Woodley, for “Stand Up/Stand N Rock #NoDAPL” (environment); and John Legend for “Surefire” (immigration and anti-Muslim-hate category).

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It made me cry.

We all need to take a stand against intolerance. You may not agree with someone’s views, background, or orientation, but you have no right to force your views, background or orientation on anyone else. This nation is a nation more diverse than any other I have seen. Our leaders now turn away people because they are not Christian or not white. Our leaders use religion and terror to dictate our policies, going so far as racially profiling and using fear and propaganda to justify the hate they are spreading. Our leaders use their positions to incite and polarize the nation to become divided and scared.

I say NO MORE. We cannot allow these seeds to further root into our society. Hatred should not be welcome or tolerated by anyone in this country. We need to tell our leaders that we will not allow their fear of extremism diminish the openness we have always held true in this country. We need to show our leaders that they need to listen to the love and compassion that we, those whom they were elected to serve, can bestow on the world. WE THE PEOPLE of the United States of America in order to form a more perfect union need to unite ourselves because our leaders are not going to unite us.

We have seen in the Elections of 2016 how the divide is cancerous. The nominees for President have shown how much disdain they have for women, Muslims, latinos, non-heterosexuals. This disdain continues with the polarization of groups that preach hate to non-white and non-Christians. It is terrifying and illuminating to see how deep this goes, but as Robert Lee IV and Susan Bro have implied, we have the power and need the courage to change this and bring love, compassion and hope back to our nation.