De Blasio says Brooklyn’s General Lee Ave must be renamed ‘immediately’
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he’d renew efforts to change a street named after Robert E. Lee in Brooklyn’s Fort Hamilton military base — as one of his deputy mayors revealed his ancestors were slaves on the Confederate general’s family plantation.
“Nothing should be named after Robert E. Lee at this point in history,” de Blasio said at his daily press briefing Thursday. “Anything named after him has to go in this city.”
The mayor was fielding a question about the existence of General Lee Avenue, a stretch of road within the military base in southwest Brooklyn.
An emotional Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson chimed in to share his family history with Lee.
“I just wanted to say that my father’s family, the Thompsons on both sides, were enslaved on the plantation of Robert E. Lee’s father, Henry Lee, and one of my ancestors is named Sarah Lee,” Thompson said.
“This issue is an emotional issue for many people like me and it’s really hard for us to feel fully part of this country that celebrates our enslavement with names like that on military bases all across this country.”
In 2017, the US Army turned down a request to change the name of that street and one named after Stonewall Jackson, who like Lee was stationed at the base in the 1840s.
At the time, the Army said the streets were named after the two generals “in the spirit of reconciliation” after the Civil War.
But de Blasio on Thursday vowed to fight a war of his own.
“We will go right back at the military … I will reach out to them and let them know how important it is to remove the name of Robert E. Lee not only in Fort Hamilton but everywhere else,” he said.
The issue resurfaced in New York City amid a global movement against racial injustices following the Minneapolis police-involved killing of George Floyd.
In Virginia on Wednesday, a judge blocked Gov. Ralph Northam from removing a Lee statue. Statues of Christopher Columbus have also been torn down or defaced in recent days in Virginia and Boston.
Columbus is viewed by some as a hero and others as a vicious conqueror for his discovery of North America.
Confederate memorials were also targeted in 2015, after white supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine black churchgoers in South Carolina and two years later following a violent white supremacist protest in Charlottesville that left one counter-protester dead.
Source: Read Full Article