Conversation: Our Series on Questions & Perspectives in 2020


EDITOR’S NOTE: Below is an introduction to a 6-part Series entitled Conversation: Questions & Perspectives in 2020. Winters Media & Publishing Inc. asked six black community leaders – Cynthia Jenkins, Evett Jones, Kenya Brantley, Chad Smith, Deidre Bembry, and Vernon M. Strickland – to share their points of view in the worldwide #BlackLivesMatter debate and how it relates to Coweta County. So in the next six days, we’ll preview each individually with their perspectives on this very important subject in 2020.

By John A. Winters, Publisher

I  am a proud alumni of Washington and Lee University.

In the 1700s, it was known as Washington College, thanks to an endowment from our country’s first president, George Washington.

After the Civil War, Robert E. Lee, former general of the Confederate Army, became president of the school. Upon his death,  the college was renamed Washington and Lee University.

Lee and his family, including his parents (his father was Henry “Light- Horse Harry” Lee, a general during the American Revolution and Virginia governor), are all buried there in Lee Chapel.

Lee Chapel also includes an exact replica of Lee’s office while at the university. His favorite horse, Traveller, is buried nearby.

Lee was instrumental in starting the Kappa Alpha fraternity. (I’m a Phi Delt so that was Lee’s only flaw after the war); the law school and the journalism school.

He was also very involved in the school’s Honor System, and pushed to have it run solely by students. Lee was very big on students taking personal responsibility.

In conversations with my fraternity brothers at our every now and then reunions, each will tell you the Honor System has been a major influence in their lives.

It is a school steeped in history, tradition and honor.

So I am a little shocked at  how my little Virginia school in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is becoming a lightning rod for the #BlackLivesMatter debate. It is becoming a national story with some calling for renaming the school to closing down Lee Chapel and beyond.

As a W&L trained journalist, I have asked myself a lot of questions on this topic; questions that I simply do not know the answer.

So I have asked some black community leaders to help answer my questions and more importantly, to share their views.

They have graciously agreed and you will find their conversations scattered throughout the July issue of The Paper and on our digital platforms –, our Facebook and Twitter pages. Personally, it was incredibly enlightening for me and I saw many issues from a completely different perspective.

I hope they impact you as well and that we can continue these conversations. I believe we must.

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