DJ 33 1/3

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Louisiana School Board Member Criticized By Black Activist

In a viral video, an activist criticized a Louisiana school board member who defended keeping the name of a school after Robert E. Lee.

"You sit your arrogant self in here and sit on there shopping while the pain and the hurt of the people of this community is on display because you don't give a damn and you should resign," the activist, Gary Chambers Jr., told board member Connie Bernard at the hearing.

"You should walk out of here and resign and never come back because you are the example of racism in this community," he added. "You are horrible."

Chambers' commentary comes amid a reckoning with systemic racism. One part of that reckoning has been a push to remove monuments or odes to the Confederacy.

Last week the school renamed "Lee High School," which was originally named after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. by removing the "Robert E." from the name.

Days before the hearing, board member Connie Bernard said she wanted to keep the name to honor the school's legacy, encouraging people to do more research into Lee's history.

"I would hope that they would learn a little bit more about General Lee, because General Lee inherited a large plantation and he was tasked with the job of doing something with those people who lived in bondage to that plantation, the slaves, and he freed them," she said.

Ultimately, the school board resolution was unanimously approved, with all nine members, including Bernard, voting in favor. Bernard has since apologized for her remarks.

"My comments last week about the naming of Lee High School were insensitive, have caused pain for others, and have led people to believe I am an enemy of people of color, and I am deeply sorry," she said. "I condemn racial injustice in any form. I promise to be part of the solution and to listen to the concerns of all members of our community. I stand with you, in love and respect."

Lee personally owned enslaved people and he assumed command of 189 others after his father-in-law died in 1857. The will stipulated that the enslaved people be freed within five years, but Lee petitioned to extend his control. State courts denied his petitions, and Lee officially freed the people on December 29, 1862 days before the Emancipation Proclamation.

Photos by Getty Images

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