A pastor who claimed to be a descendent of Robert E. Lee throughout a sequence of high-profile civil rights speeches denouncing the Confederate isn’t related to the overall in any respect, it has been revealed.
The Rev. Robert Lee IV first hit the highlight in 2016 when The Washington Post profiled him, calling him “the great-great-great-great-nephew of Confederate Army Gen. Robert E. Lee.”
The reverend then continued making the heritage declare in a series of high-profile appearances, together with when he praised Black Lives Matter on the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards.
“We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy, racism and hate,” he mentioned on the awards present, which adopted the lethal white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that was a protest to take away a statue to the overall.
“As a pastor, it is my moral duty to speak out against racism, America’s original sin,” he mentioned on the time, stepping down from his North Carolina church after his feedback sparked anger amongst his congregation.
It solely helped elevate his profile, nevertheless, and Lee continued denouncing his supposed ancestor in a sequence of media outbursts, including TV’s “The View.”
“I want it to be said of me that there was a Lee in history who stood up for something that was right,” he informed the ABC daytime speak present.
He returned to the highlight final yr after the loss of life of George Floyd, joining Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam within the bid to take away statues honoring the overall — nonetheless claiming he was a relative.
The reverend even spoke at a House committee hearing final yr.
After first writing about Lee, The Washington Post invited him final yr to pen an op-ed wherein he mentioned he had “borne the weight and responsibility” of his “lineage” to Lee.
But the identical paper questioned its personal earlier reporting Friday when it published an exhaustive fact-check into the reverend’s historical past.
“There is no evidence that Rob Lee, who was born in North Carolina, is related to Robert E. Lee, according to The Fact Checker’s review of historical and genealogical records,” wrote the paper’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler.
The research was based mostly on a information search aided by a retired lawyer and Civil War chronicler named Joseph Ryan, in addition to an official at Stratford Hall, the ancestral house of the Virginia Lee household, the paper mentioned.
“Instead, he appears to be a descendant of Robert S. Lee, also known as ‘Uncle Bob,’ who served in the Confederate forces — but was not a general,” Kessler wrote of the research.
He advised it could have been a mistake, writing, “Family tales and memories can often be inaccurate.”
Lee didn’t reply to the paper’s analysis — however later blamed “family dynamics that make this difficult” to clarify.
“Why the Post is so focused on my heritage and lineage while not focusing on the issues of the statue at hand is beyond me,” he mentioned, whereas revealing that he had eliminated his identify from a lawsuit in search of a Confederate statue’s removing.
He later insisted that he had not “sought fortune” by his declare, and mentioned “sorry” to those that “feel this discredits me or breaks belief.”
“And, for distraction and de-centering voices of color, I’m sorry,” he wrote, saying he was “taking some time away.”
Shani George, vp for communications at The Washington Post, insisted that the paper does “our best to verify a contributor’s credentials.”
“This was clearly a more complicated case, though at the time, our research gave us no reason to doubt his lineage claims,” George mentioned.