New Orleans takes on Confederate symbols, including Robert E. Lee

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

City Considering What To Do With 4 Confederate Monuments.

New Orleans is poised to make a sweeping break with its Confederate past as city leaders decide whether to remove prominent monuments from some of its busiest streets.NEW ORLEANS – Prominent Confederate monuments long taken for granted on the streets of this Deep South city may be coming down as allegiance to Confederate symbols slowly erodes in the South and blacks across the nation demand an end to racism and police brutality.

Tuesday night, dozens of residents sound off to a special commission about what they think should happen to the controversial statues that some call offensive. “I think those statues must stay where they are, they must represent the history of Maryland, they must represent the history of Baltimore and they must represent the history of America,” said Heid. With support from Mayor Mitch Landrieu, a majority on the City Council appears ready to take down four monuments, including a towering statue of Confederate Gen. Their ordinance has sparked passionate responses for and against these symbols, and both sides will get one more say at a special council meeting before Thursday’s vote. “This has never happened before,” said Charles Kelly Barrow, commander-in-chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. “I’ve never heard of a city trying to sweep [away] all Confederate monuments.” Geographers have identified at least 872 parks, natural features, schools, streets and other locations named for major Confederate leaders in 44 states, according to a mapping project. Beauregard, a high-ranking Confederate officer; a monument to Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president; and the Liberty Place monument, commemorating a deadly 1874 uprising by the Crescent City White League, a white supremacist group, against the integrated Reconstruction government.

The push to remove racially charged symbolism has fused, too, with the outrage over police shootings of unarmed blacks and lingering patterns of racism — a current movement embodied by the group Black Lives Matter and student protests, such as what happened at the University of Missouri that led to the resignation of the college system president. The New Orleans City Council will vote on Thursday on what would be a landmark ordinance to declare these statues a public nuisance, paving the way for their removal.

Beauregard, the Confederate general, mounted on a horse in the center of another traffic circle at the entrance to City Park could be struck from the cityscape. Charles Avenue since 1884: A 16-foot-tall bronze statue of Lee stands atop a 60-foot-high Doric marble column, which itself rises over granite slabs on an earthen mound. Lewis, who advocates for equal employment access and living wages with the center’s Stand With Dignity campaign, links the monuments to the slavery era and to present-day economic inequalities. “We are not in shackles, but we are working till we die from paycheck to paycheck,” she said. Above it all, the Virginian stands in his military uniform, with his arms folded and his gaze set firmly on the North — the embodiment of the “Cult of the Lost Cause” southerners invoked to justify continued white power after the Civil War.

On Tuesday, a volunteer group that looks after monuments across the city said it had collected about 31,000 signatures of people opposed to the removal of the monuments. “But a lot of us were Confederates,” he added. “New Orleans was part of the Confederacy. Like Lewis, Quess links the Confederate monuments and systemic issues in the black community, like high crime and unemployment rates. “All of those things are not separate. The people who erected the Confederate statues, McGraw says, “wanted to send a message to the future that at the time they thought these people had made a significant contribution … These were noble men in their eyes.” The committee’s counterplan to address the monument controversy includes advocating “respect and tolerance for all monuments,” adding interpretive plaques to some statues and erecting new ones. Clancy Dubos, a New Orleans columnist and chairman of a weekly newspaper, suggested turning Lee Circle into “Generals Circle” by adding a statue of Union Gen.

But in New Orleans, where it’s not uncommon to trace family roots back hundreds of years, the debate over history and monuments often has personal resonance.

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