Rev. Robert W. Lee, a distant relative of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, spoke out on his ancestor and how he is changing the narrative surrounding his family.

Make no mistake, he wants people educated on his family’s history in an “honest” way, he told CNN. He just doesn’t want the general celebrated.

In a recent Monument Lab survey, Robert E. Lee came up as the sixth-most represented figure across the nation with 48,000 statues and plaques to commemorate him.

When Rev. Lee was young, he was proud to have a famous ancestor and even had a confederate flag hanging in his bedroom. He credits Southern culture for affecting his view of the general.

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“That whole mentality of the Lost Cause (the belief that the cause of the Civil War was not slavery) started to seep into my life,” he said. “It then became a point of retrospection and trying to figure out what is the point of all this? Why are we celebrating this man who enslaved people and fought for the continued enslavement of black people on this continent?”

In 2018, when Confederate defenders began speculating if Rev. Lee was actually a descendent of the general, Rev. Lee felt like his work to educate the public was being discredited.

He didn’t let their doubts stop him from making an effort to denounce white supremacy and continued pushing for memorials to be taken down.

“I never thought in my lifetime, I would see Richmond and Charlottesville get rid of their statues,” Rev. Lee said. “They’re idols of white supremacy and symbols of racism and hate. And for me as a Christian, and many other faiths feel this way too, we can’t have idols in our public square. That just doesn’t square right with what we’re trying to do as a community, as a state, a commonwealth or a nation.”

Lee presented a 400-page genealogy report proving his relation to the general last October.

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