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Although many people don't like the idea of mixing politics with their entertainment, human rights issues are universal, and something we can all put our energy behind. In the middle of handing out moon persons and showcasing a boatload of musical acts at the 2017 VMAs, MTV decided they would use their platform to do some good.
Prior to awarding the Fight Against The System Award, a first-time award designed to honor artists who promote socially-conscious messages, MTV brought out a descendant of Robert E. Lee, the Civil War general whose statue was at the center of the white supremacist clash in Charlottesville, Virginia this August. Robert Lee IV spoke out against the people using his ancestor to promote bigotry, and stood tall against prejudice in all forms.
"We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy, racism, and hate," said Lee. "As a pastor, it is my moral duty to speak out against racism, America's original sin. Today I call on all of us with privilege and power to answer God's call, to confront racism and white supremacy head on."
Lee cited Black Lives Matter, the Women's March, and Heather Heyer—the woman who lost her life in the Charlottesville violence—as examples of people who we should attempt to emulate in the fight against bigotry. And then he went one step further, bringing out Heyer's own mother to give a speech of her own during the award show.
After a brief standing ovation, Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, announced the creation of a non-profit, the Heather Heyer Foundation, started to help battle against hatred around the world. "I want people to know Heather never marched alone," said Bro, "she was always joined by people from every race and every background in this country."
It was a powerful moment, and drew rave reviews from most of the people watching at home.
Robert Lee descendant flat out condemning hatred/racism on live television. You listening, prez? #vmas— Okey Atukpawu (@oakman1994) August 28, 2017
Pastor Robert Lee, a descendent of Robert E. Lee, just introduced Susan Bro at the #VMAs. And with that MTV just became relevant again.— Jeremy Newberger (@jeremynewberger) August 28, 2017
This Pastor Robert Lee calling on people to confront racism & white supremacy...I'm here for this kind of pastoral care— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) August 28, 2017
if robert lee's ancestors are telling white supremacists to fuck off u think theyd take the hint— eva (@ERSLlVE) August 28, 2017
Where you stand on political issues doesn't really matter here, as the fight against racism is one we can all get behind. Just make sure you're equipped for the battle against Neo-Nazis.
You can watch Lee's speech at the VMAs above.