School board member who praised Robert E Lee criticised for shopping online during debate about dropping his name
A 1935 statue of Robert E Lee by sculptor Alexander Phimister was sold in an auction in Dallas for more than USD 1.4 million: AP
A white school board member in Louisiana has apologized for telling people offended by a local school named after the Confederate General Robert E Lee that they should "learn a little more about him."
Baton Rouge-based Gary Chambers, who noted that Connie Bernard, a member of the East Baton Rouge School Board, was shopping online during a meeting about the school's name change, condemned her comments at a board meeting on June 18, which has since gone viral are.
"This is a picture of you shopping as we talk about racism and history in this country," said black Mr. Chambers. "Only white board members got up while we talk. You don't care."
Mr. Chambers pointed out Lee's story as a "brutal slave master" and denied a false story, or Mr. Lee as an anti-slavery advocate, who was immortalized in the Lost Cause story of the civil war, which was promoted by some confederation-friendly historians.
"You sit here in your arrogant self and sit there while shopping, while the pain and the pain of this community are visible," he said. "You should go out here and step back and never come back because you're the example of racism in this community. You're terrible."
On Thursday, the school board unanimously agreed to rename the 61-year-old school, which voted to remove Robert E from its name in 2016. Ms. Bernard was one of the school board members who voted to keep Lee at Lee High School.
Ms. Bernard denied online shopping in a statement to The Advocate.
Before the meeting, she said to a local news agency, "I would hope that you learn a little more about General Lee because General Lee inherited a large plantation and it was his job to do something with the people he lived in Bondage to this plantation, the slaves, and he freed them. "
In addition to enslaving people, Lee had also beaten and fought to keep them in court while he relied on their work for several years to inherit the legacy of his father-in-law, John Reeves, author of The Lost Indictment of Robert E. to repay. Lee: The forgotten case against an American icon, the Associated Press said.
The school board meeting follows weeks of riots and renewed debates, as well as the physical overthrow of statues and monuments to the Confederacy, and examines their white legacy from the Supremacists as the US boils over with systemic racism and police violence in its accounts.
"Lee owned a handful of slaves from his own family and then managed his father-in-law's 200 slaves. Throughout his life, he was very, very busy with slavery until the end of 1862," he said.
According to an analysis of Federal Data Education Week, at least 178 schools in 17 U.S. states continue to be named after men associated with the Confederacy.
Fifty-three schools are named after General Lee and more than a dozen are named after Stonewall Jackson, and more than a dozen others are named after Sidney Lanier.
In her apology, Ms. Bernard said, "My comments last week about naming Lee High School were insensitive, painful to others, and made people think I was an enemy of the colored and I am very sorry. I condemn racial injustices in any form. I promise to be part of the solution and to listen to the concerns of all members of our community. I stand with you in love and respect. "
Mr. Chambers proposed naming the school after someone who needed to be named "for the people who were fighting for abolition," including the state's first black governor, PBS Pinchback.
"Honor the right people on the right side of the story," he said.
Other board members also criticized Ms. Bernard after the meeting.
After Mr. Chambers' video became widespread, board member Dadrius Lanus, who proposed the name change, said, "You had every opportunity to apologize during the board meeting, but instead you chose to buy clothes while members of our community , including parents and teachers, waited 7 hours to speak about an issue that affects our students!
"The same video has now gone viral and has been seen by over 2 million people around the world," he said. "Think about how this makes our city and community look like! If it had been me or another black board member, we would no doubt have left the board 2 years ago! If it were a teacher or a worker, they would have been fired immediately Why should she get special treatment?
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