Forced to resign from his church for speaking out against racism, Rob Lee has no regrets.

The descendant of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee did the right thing.

Pastor Robert Lee IV took the stage at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards to share a simple message.

Lee, a descendent of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, was there to introduce Susan Bro, the mother of Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer. On stage, he denounced the use of his ancestor as "an idol of white supremacy, racism, and hate" and claimed it was his "moral duty to speak out against racism."

GIF from MTV/Twitter.


He gave a shout-out to the Black Lives Matter movement, to everybody who participated in the Women's March, and of course, to Heyer herself. It was a powerful, moving call to action for people to take a stand against hate.

Not everybody was a fan of Lee's speech, and in the span of just over a week, he was out as pastor at Bethany United Church of Christ in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

In a blog post on Auburn Seminary's website, Lee explained why he decided to resign his post in the church following his breakout appearance at the VMAs, noting that some congregants were uneasy with his vocal support of the Women's March, Black Lives Matter, and Heather Heyer; others were just as uncomfortable with the national attention they received.

Lee with Susan Bro during the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards. Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.

"The church’s reaction was deeply hurtful to me," he wrote, explaining that the church wanted to bring his tenure up for a vote after his appearance on MTV.

Instead, Lee resigned.

Doing the right thing isn't always easy. Often, that's even more reason to do it.

"A theologian I admire speaks of costly grace and sometimes speaking up costs more than we could have imagined," Lee told Spectrum News Charlotte. "I love my church and will always have fond memories there for my first pastorate."

"I'd just like people to know that a small group of voices is no match to the unwavering movement of justice in this world," Lee says in an email, declining to comment on the specific circumstances behind his resignation.

"I do want the hate-filled rhetoric to end so that we might focus on real issues like DACA being rescinded and continuing to keep in the public conscious the issues of racial inequality and the monuments that support those systems."

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

It may have cost Lee his job, but using his voice to resist the continued oppression of others was the right thing to do. For that, Lee is an inspiration to anyone who feels too small to make a difference in the world.

We all have a voice — it's just a matter of how we decide to use it.

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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