Descendants of General Robert E. Lee and enslaved people unite for change: “We want to move forward.”

Visitors will be able to return to Arlington House and Robert E. Lee Memorial from Tuesday. A major review by the National Park Service brought together the descendants of both General Lee and the slaves who once lived and worked in his estate. It was a moment that took nearly 200 years. But to reach that moment, many steps had to be taken.

Inez Parks and Steve Hammond have roots in this historic site. Parks’ great-grandfather James dug his first tomb in Arlington.

She told CBS News Jericka Duncan, “There are people who deserve them. They need to tell their story.”

Hammond says that when he comes to this site, he thinks of the people who were actually involved in the construction.

The new exhibit on Tuesday draws a lot of attention to the lives of those who worked for free. Park Service has restored the former slave settlement that became the site’s bookstore.

“The fact that we chose to put it back in a prestigious place. I think it’s a huge problem,” Hammond said.

Aaron LaRocca has been with the National Park Service for 15 years. He said he couldn’t imagine a day when those lives would be the focus of the museum. “We could really make progress to liven up the stories of all the people here,” La Rocca said. Told.

This is the story that Steve Hammond and his family spent years unraveling.Hammond knew it General Lee He released his relative Charles Syphax and dozens of slaves.

“Robert E. Lee finally signed a certificate to release the 40 enslaved people here, including Charles Syphax.”

Hammond said the story is very complex and he thinks the country is worth knowing more.

Rob Lee and his sister Tracy Lee Kritenberger agree. They are the great-grandchildren of the shogun. The family has kept the name alive, but has worked hard to fill in the thoughts associated with it. After looking at the global assessment of racial injustice last summer CharlottesvilleHis family shouted when he saw the statue of General Lee falling.

“As the Lee family, we are in perfect agreement with the social justice that is taking place today. We are unlikely to be leaders in this, but if we can do small things here, we want to move forward.” Said Lee.

Billionaire philanthropist David Rubenstein has donated more than $ 12 million to the National Park Service’s restoration project. He said he wanted to remove Robert E. Lee’s name.

“Well, I think Robert E. Lee is probably a symbol of what’s wrong with some people,” he said. However, changing the name of the monument requires parliamentary action.

“We’ll remove Robert E. Lee’s name from it, but it won’t erase his history here,” Hammond said.

“This is not just a problem for General Lee. It involves all the families and all their voices who lived here,” Lee said.

For generations, families united by a bitter past have released an unspoken story to honor those who made it a national treasure. Hammond said he had been looking forward to this moment for years.

“I get emotional when I talk about it. It’s a very powerful opportunity to connect people and make a difference and a better world,” he said.

Descendants of General Robert E. Lee and enslaved people unite for change: “We want to move forward.”

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