Bobbie Lee, Da Mayor of Fifth Ward

Bobbie Lee, Da Mayor of Fifth Ward: The Black Invisible Social Construct

By Aaron P. Goffney

As I sat with Bobbie Lee, I immediately felt his energy. His passion for war and history steamed my interest. I knew this man had something to say. Upon our introduction, we shook hands, he asked me to state a little bit about myself. I told him that I am a single father studying political science with a minor in history. He then handed me The Art of War by Sun Tzu and told me that no community organizer or great warrior succeeded without reading this book.

With a deep voice and a commanding tone, Lee formally introduced himself, “My name is Robert E. Lee III; I was born in Jasper, Texas. My mother was born in Jasper County and my father Henderson County.” He spoke on the controversy of his name, Robert E. Lee, and that his father named him purposely after the Confederacy General. “My name was both a gift and a curse,” he said.

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Scroll down to watch the movie, Bobbie Lee, Da Mayor of Fifth Ward: A Message for the Next Generation. Speaking to his daughter as if in the future, Aaron describes a man that changed his life and encourages his daughter to remember how important history is and to share it with the world. He also encourages her to believe in herself and be great in all of her endeavors in life. Also listen to excerpts from Aaron P. Goffney’s interview with Bobbie Lee. Click here to watch movie if movie image is not visible.

Click on the arrows below to listen to excerpts from Aaron P. Goffney’s interview with Robert E. Lee on October 14, 2012, at Lee’s home in the Fifth Ward.

Robert E. Lee explains his family’s background as Texas slaves and how being named after a general in the Confederacy affected his youth. In school, he finally learned who his father named him after, which led him to become interested in military history, something he used later in life in community organizing.

Lee discusses the importance of oral history and historians, especially black writers and black history. He also talks about the long history of the Black Panthers.

Lee explains the Black Underworld and its funding of black organizations. He talks about the booming economy of the Fifth Ward during segregation and the Black Underworld’s stance against integration. He also defines the Invisible Black Social Construct.

Lee talks about elementary school and growing up with Mickey Leland, how he introduced Leland, Karl Hampton, and his brother El Franco Lee to politics, and building rainbow coalitions. Lee talks about being the field secretary for the Black Panthers and the differences working in the North versus working in Houston.

Lee discusses Karl Hampton and the People’s Party 2. Hampton opened an office on Dowling across from Emancipation Park in June 1970. In July 1970, he was killed by the Houston Police Department. Lee explains that the Black Panthers in Houston sought to confront the police violence against the black community.

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