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Renaming Robert E. Lee a misapplication of the lessons of Charleston

Regarding the article "City to Choose New Name for Robert E. Lee Parkhttp://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-robert-e-lee-park-20150717-story.html (July 18), it seems that City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young seems to misunderstand the lesson of the Charleston massacre. Without a question, slavery and its continued legacy are a terrible stain on this country's reputation. The Confederacy fought for its perceived right to continue slavery, and Lee led the Confederate Army. Does that make him a bad man?

Or is the problem with Lee one of slave ownership? If that is the problem, then I highly recommend the two recent articles on Snopes.com ("The Truth About Confederate History"). Part 2 says "Confederate General Robert E. Lee freed his slaves (which he never purchased — they were inherited) in 1862". It is well known that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and many other esteemed Americans, including Union General Grant, owned slaves. Surely, it would be overreacting to strip the name of every slave-owner from every public park and institution in the country. Down would come the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial …

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Maybe it would be better to install a booth at Lee Park and other public places named after slave owners with information about them, about their slave ownership and about their reasons for owning slaves or, in Lee's case, reasons for supporting the Confederacy, rather than removing all mention of such people. All people are flawed, with good and bad parts. Does the good outweigh the bad?

We will not overcome racism in the U.S. without education, without teaching the history of both sides of key events such as the Civil War to every citizen of this nation, and not just during our primary school education, but at every possible opportunity.

Eric Holzman, Ellicott City

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