NAACP protests Robert E. Lee’s birthday celebrations

January 12, 2007

State workers got the day off in honor of Confederate Generals Stonewall Jackson
and Robert E. Lee. Two hundred years after his birth, Lee continues to stir controversy.

A few miles from the state capitol, members of the NAACP and Virginia Anti-War
Network gathered at the base of Monument Avenue’s centerpiece in protest. The
Lee statue is the only one Virginia owns on Monument Avenue. Last fall, the
Commonwealth spent half a million tax dollars to restore the landmark.

Many are appalled the state forces them to help maintain the hundred year old
statue of Robert E. Lee. The group called for schools to stop portraying Lee
as a virtuous hero. They also criticized the General Assembly for sponsoring
Lee’s birthday celebration.

Two years ago, the legislature set up a subcommittee to prepare for Lee’s 200th
birthday. It was led by Delegate Ben Cline. Cline hopes Virginians remember
the general’s work beyond the Civil War.

This year the legislature will decide whether or not to issue a state apology
for slavery. Members of the NAACP hope that will be less controversial than
the legacy Robert E. Lee leaves behind.

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