A heated discussion at the East Baton Rouge Parish school board in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, went viral over the weekend. Members of the board were debating the possible renaming of Lee High School, which is named for Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, according to WBRZ.
In 2016, the board voted to remove the “Robert E.” from the name, but his last name remained attached to the school.
Connie Bernard, a White board member opposed to renaming the school, shared her thoughts during the meeting. “I would hope that they would learn a little bit more about General Lee because General Lee inherited a large plantation, and he was tasked with the job of doing something with those people who lived in bondage to that plantation, the slaves, and he freed them,” she said.
However, Bernard was challenged by Baton Rouge resident and activist Gary Chambers Jr., who called out Bernard for siding with Lee and also for shopping online during the meeting.
“Robert E. Lee was a brutal slave master,” Chambers said. “Not only did he say whoop the slaves, he said lay it on them hard. He said put brine on them so it’ll burn them. You sit your arrogant self in here, sit on there shopping, while the pain and the hurt of the people of this community is on display.”
Chambers added, “We built this joint for free, and we’re done begging you to do what’s right.”
Lee owned 189 slaves that he inherited from his father-in-law, who freed the slaves after five years in his will, according to the American Civil War Museum. However, Lee continued to enslave the men, women and children and was known for being brutal to those who attempted to run away from his plantation. He eventually became a general in the Confederate Army during the U.S. Civil War.
On July 16, 2020, the East Baton Rouge Parish school board is scheduled to make a determination about the name of Lee High School.
View the video of the heated exchange below.