A southwest Florida county wants to idolize Bruce Lee as their way of doing away with their racist history. A petition put together by Artsemble Underground to rebrand Lee County as representing Bruce Lee instead of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee is currently circulating which reads, “It’s time to stop idolizing these Confederate soldiers. Ending racism includes the removal of racist figures, statues, and idols across the south. We propose this petition to rebrand Lee County, Florida, in an effort to continue the battle to eradicate racism in the United States.”
They argue that Bruce Lee actually helped bridge the East and West and did more for the area the Robert E. Lee who never even set foot in the county. Also, by making the county about Bruce Lee instead who it’s about now, no costs would be incurred for a name change. “We are not trying to change our past, we are trying to improve our future, and what better way than [to] use an inspiring, positive influential figure as our namesake,” the petition reads.
“Robert E. Lee never even set foot in our county. He has nothing to do with this place,” Brian Weaver, who is the owner of Artsemble Underground, said, per NBC News.
Retired Confederate Capt. Francis Hendry wrote in his 1908 memoir about those objecting to the 1887 push to name the county after Robert E. Lee, “Let them protest and be _____.” He added, “I will leave the dash to be filled in by my dear friend, Judge Cranford. Yes, we are proud of the name of our county and its seat of government.”
As of this article, there are just over 500 signatures to the 1,000 signature goal. Weaver cited Virginia as an example for how they removed the 131 year old Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond stating, “The community is begging for this to change,” Weaver said. “If Virginia’s done it, why can’t we do it?”