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Teen With Roots in Deep South Is Told His Art Project Was Racist, But He Refused to Change It

A student in a Virginia high school has roots that run very deep in the south. His family was related to Robert E. Lee, a commander in the Confederate States Army during the civil war. When the student did an art project based on his family's heritage, he was told he had to change it because the design was racist.

Some people are not going to take it sitting down, and they’re willing to stand up for their heritage.

William Norman was told by his teacher to change his ceramic class project because it featured a Confederate flag, and the name of the controversial Confederate leader. The statue was a sculpture of a hand held in a fist on a pedestal. The flag was painted on the hand, along with the name 'Robert E. Lee'.

The pedestal read, "History, not hate."

The teacher at Nandua High School initially approved the design, but later changed her mind. She asked Norman to make a different project, but he refused.

“I’m going to stand for what I think is right,” Norman said, according to Raw Story. “I was going to do what I planned. They can’t approve it and then say you gotta change it after I worked so long on it. It’s not fair to me, or anybody.”

The teacher told Norman that he h ad two choices: change it, or get an 'F' in the class. Norman's parents are backing him up. They tried to explain that Robert E. Lee is their third cousin, and that the project is about Norman's heritage.

“We were on the second ship from England that came to America, so my bloodline goes way back when America first started,” said David Norman. "I’m not a racist, the furthest thing from it. My son’s not a racist.”

After many meetings between the Normans and the school principal, the school finally agreed to let the project be displayed.

"Everybody should be able to practice or display their heritage in a way they'd like," said William. "People that may be racist might fly it but to me, it has nothing to do with racism. It's my heritage, my blood, where I came from."

Many southerners still insist that the symbols of their heritage are not about racism, and that the meaning behind such displays is not to offend people. Their ancestors bravely fought for a certain way of life, and lost. They want to honor those who made the sacrifice. They see them as glorifying their traditions, not of supporting hate or oppression.

There has been a great deal of controversy over Confederate symbols and figures over the last few years. Some argue that the symbols are racist no matter what, and feel that the public arena of modern society is not an appropriate place to celebrate them. For some members of society, the symbols can be downright painful to see.

For the most part, people with southern heritage have been on the losing side of the argument. They have watched one Civil War monument after another removed from public places, they’ve seen Confederate flags banned and chunks of the past swept under the rug. But the fight is far from over.

Source: Raw Story
Photos: Delmarva Now, Raw Story, WWeak

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