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North Carolina Minister Leaves His Church After Backlash

Robert Lee IV, a descendant of Confederate General Robert Lee, speaks out against racism at the 2017 VMA's on 8/27/2017. Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer, appears on stage.
Matt Sayles
/
AP - 2017
Robert Lee IV, a descendant of Confederate General Robert Lee, speaks out against racism at the 2017 VMA's on 8/27/2017. Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer, appears on stage.

Robert W. Lee IV is a North Carolina minister and descendant of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Robert W. Lee IV has made it his mission to counter the racist and problematic legacy of his ancestor by writing and speaking openly about the continued effects of racism in the U.S. 

Recently that mission took him to the stage of the MTV Video Music Awards where he preached about “God's call to confront racism and white supremacy head-on.” But some congregants of Winston-Salem’s Bethany United Church of Christ where he worked as a pastor did not appreciate his use of the MTV pulpit. Lee faced a wave of backlash and eventually decided to leave that church.

Host Frank Stasio speaks with Lee about the experience and his plans for fighting racial inequality moving forward.

Laura Pellicer is a digital reporter with WUNC’s small but intrepid digital news team.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.