Robert E. Lee is my ancestor. Take down his statue.

Others of us have worked for generations to escape the scorn my family — and the Lost Cause mythology — has brought on upon the nation. And for many of us, removing the statue of Lee was a culmination of years of work. For me, this symbolic gesture stands at the start of a new way of life in the South, a new cause that could replace the Lost Cause mentality if we get this right.

The new cause of this country is about justice, equality, peace and concord. We can and must be different. Now is the time to make this new cause the hope of this upcoming generation of activists. We can give the gift of Southern hospitality and community instead of passing on a pseudo-historical and oppressive understanding of the world.

To rest when symbols of oppression fall is to have only done a portion of the work. I have often lain awake at night wondering if I did the right thing in criticizing my uncle, or in supporting the statue’s removal, or in trying to move past the Lost Cause. I doubted — as all white people do — that this was my battle to fight. But even if that doubt was momentary, it shows that I have more work to do. We must begin anew each morning to redeem the world and atone for the past.