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Episcopal church in Brooklyn removes R.E. Lee memorials

Episcopal church in Brooklyn removes R.E. Lee memorials

From the Associated Press:

NEW YORK (AP) — Leaders of a New York Episcopal diocese say they’ll remove two plaques honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a church property in Brooklyn.

Bishop Lawrence Provenzano, leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, told Newsday ( the plaques outside St. John’s Episcopal Church are being removed Wednesday.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy markers commemorate the spot where Lee is said to have planted a tree while serving in the U.S. Army at Fort Hamilton in New York in the 1840s. Two decades later, he became commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.

The removal comes in the wake of last weekend’s deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white supremacists protested plans to remove a Lee statue from a public park.

From the original story, in Newsday:

“I think it is the responsible thing for us to do,” Bishop Lawrence Provenzano said. “People for whom the Civil War is such a critical moment — and particularly the descendants of former slaves — shouldn’t walk past what they believe is a church building and see a monument to a Confederate general.”

More about the history of the memorials:

Provenzano said the current tree is a “descendant” of the original planted by Lee. A second United Daughters of the Confederacy plaque, which makes note of that and says a replacement tree was planted in 1935, also will be taken down Wednesday.

The historic church itself, called “the Church of the Generals” (2016 article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle here) has been sold and is under contract, according to Provenzano.

This video of the removal was posted on Twitter by a Wall Street Journal reporter:


Image from The Brooklyn Eagle


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Prof Christopher Seitz

The african americans I believe have got it right want to focus to be on jobs and economic recovery and moral renewal. Doctor King’s daughter is an excellent example.

I’d worry less about scripting anyone else’s proper responses to anything and work hard on your own soul.

My dad was chaplain at a boarding school in the south and he ran admissions. He recruited the first african american students in the heady days of the late 60s. He did it because it was right, and never credited himself with anything. There was resistance from students. He ignored it. So did I.

I long ago gave up telling people how to be better moral examples. Act and let the Holy Spirit carry out the rest. “And when you have done all you can, say I am your unworthy servant” as Luke puts it.

John Chilton

You’re suggesting a script for African Americans and, to be fair, I think you mean for any Americans. What I think you omit is that there is a race problem in this country. African Americans can’t make it go away or change how it impacts them. White Americans need to work towards dismantling racism and racial inequality, by all means including individual self-examination.

Your father’s noble act illustrates the both/and nature of racial inequality. Resistance by parents to the integration of private schools is but a small part of the system that has hamstrung black Americans and continues to do so.


Prof Christopher Seitz

I am sure lots of things were omitted…

I also try to avoid scripting other people’s right actions.

Prof Christopher Seitz

“I’m 54 years old,” Barkley said. “I’ve never thought about those statues a day in my life. I think if you ask most black people, to be honest, they ain’t thought a day in their life about those stupid statues.”

The wisdom of Charles Barkley.

John Chilton

I’m sure there are others who share Barkley’s views. But of course he does not speak for all. Perhaps you could frame your objection to taking down Confederate monuments this way: Our energy should be focused on racial reconciliation and rooting out racism. I do hear black voices expressing that view.

But, once again, you express views that cannot be reconciled by critical thinking: monuments are coming down because they are offensive to the vast majority of African Americans.

Prof Christopher Seitz

Thank you, Gwen. That sounds very reasonable to me.

One further thought. The whippings, lynching, chains, and robust defense of slavery were undertaken by members of the political party known by the name “The Democratic Party.” The name should conjour all this up. Why didn’t it get removed, like the parties of segregation and hate in Rhodesia or Germany? Perhaps it should be removed now. I wonder if anyone will propose this?

Gwen Palmer

Hello again, Prof Seitz. I’m having a small issue with the site’s “Reply” function, which does not append/indent my replies to the specific comment I’m replying to – it makes them new comments.

So it wasn’t clear that I was responding only to your Radical Reformers iconoclasm comment, not to the full group of responses you’ve given. Though the general issue of keeping or removing icons of the Confederacy, and how or whether it differs from representations of other slaveholding founders, seems to also be the topic here.

I think I did say elsewhere (maybe a different Cafe story) that private entities had the right to make these removal decisions. This one is an interesting case. A differently worded plaque might have marked the site of the tree as a point of historical interest, in fact one sharply illustrating how Lee was a US soldier and patriot in the 1840s and how his leadership in the secessionist nation’s army made him an enemy of former comrades, which happened to others as well. It’s good example of how the breach basically ripped families, friends, and fellow-soldiers apart, and the heart out of a nation. I expect they’d word it somewhat more formally. But plaques honoring Lee without explaining this really should go, in my opinion, which doesn’t much matter since it is indeed a privately owned site. No, I don’t think Lincoln handled it wrong at all.

Prof Christopher Seitz

Chaos-generating polls or community? A or B

John Chilton–56663
“Trump Warns Removing Confederate Statues Could Be Slippery Slope To Eliminating Racism Entirely”
“In our view, the removal of the Jackson statue and others will necessarily further difficult conversations about racial justice. It will begin to tell the truth of us all coming to our senses.” – Great grandsons of Stonewall Jackson

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