Dr. Cindy Banyai, a candidate for Florida Congressional District 19, is supporting the efforts of newly formed youth group, Keep Robert E. Out of Lee, in their efforts to ensure the divisive statue does not return to downtown Fort Myers.
Dr. Banyai stated: “After calling for the removal of the bust of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from downtown Fort Myers, I am pleased that there has been a lawful removal of it. However, this does not go far enough as the removal may only be temporary. I am calling on the Robert E. Lee bust to be permanently removed from downtown Fort Myers as it is a memory of a by-gone era that is comprised of traitors to the Union.”
Dr. Banyai thinks it is important to support young activists in finding ways to voice their concerns, share their perspectives, and participate in the change making process where they can. “I was so impressed with the enthusiasm of this group when they reached out to me for support earlier this week. I saw this an important opportunity to cultivate advocacy among young people in our community, so they have an avenue to share their perspectives, influence our community, and be an active part of the change making process.” Dr. Banyai said.
There is no place in the public sphere to honor someone who betrayed our country. The Vice President of the Confederate States of America, Alexander Stephens, declared that in the Constitution and government of the Confederacy, that “its corner-stone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery – subordination to the superior race – is his natural and normal condition.” The “corner-stone” of the Confederacy was the inferiority of black people to white people. We have no right to honor such statements in the United States if we ever hope to achieve true equality. General Robert E. Lee fought for the right for white people to classify black people as subordinate based on the color of their skin. Regardless of what Lee’s personal beliefs were, his actions during a time in which his Union needed him the most reflected a desire to support slavery.
By continually honoring General Lee in the public space, we are not only declaring that the Confederacy was wrong, but that it was okay to secede from the Union and fight in favor of claiming that the white man is superior to the black man. These ideals have no place in our society. We need to keep Robert E. out of Lee because it also dishonors the history of Fort Myers. Fort Myers was a Union Fort that was never captured by the Confederacy and keeping a bust of General Lee in the same town that fought to preserve the Union dishonors the memory of the patriots that fought and died in the name of pursuing peace.