By Fleener Cophy
On March 12, 2019, the Robert E Lee bust in downtown Fort Myers was found on the ground removed and vandalized from its initial post.
This statue was commissioned at the cost of $6,000 by the Edna Grady Laetitia Ashmore Nutt Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, chapter 1447, in 1966.
For the past couple of years, there have been significant efforts across the South to remove these statues of Confederate men who fought and lost the civil war. This war was one of the bloodiest wars on our soil and was fought mainly for the soul of America and its ideas of equality as enshrined in our Constitution.
Robert E. Lee is no hero. Robert E. Lee saw black people as sub-humans even lower than animals. Robert E. Lee’s great mission was to perpetuate human bondage for his capitalist machine.
This county is named after a monster, and this statue is a symbol of white supremacy. The kind of supremacy that would later fuel the KKK with their state-sponsored terrorism leading to thousands of black people losing their lives.
Robert E. Lee represents a type of hatred that we have seen in the 2015 shooting attack on worshippers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in the 2017 car-ramming attack into counter-protestors at the white nationalist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, in the 2018 Jeffersontown Kroger shooting, in the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, and in the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings.
Black students who attend FSW have a stake in this issue as well. For too long, our voice has been silenced and ignored in a place that is supposed to be our home. When we pass by this statue in downtown Fort Myers, we do not see a history that anyone should be proud to show off in public. We see a man that advocated for us to stay in our chains. We see a county that refuses to right its wrongs and catch up with the changing times.
These monuments do not belong on the main street but in the ash heaps of history.
States like Louisiana, Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, and Texas have removed some of their Confederate memorials, with Texas removing 31 memorials — the most removals of any state. If these states have taken the bold step needed to remove these symbols of hatred, then so can we.
Why is it that we do not see any buildings, roads or statues in Germany named for Hitler? Because he was a monster who killed millions of people. Why can we not do the same when confronting this issue of Robert E. Lee monuments?