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Mitch Landrieu: Growing beyond our racist history in New Orleans

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: andrew jackson, louisiana, mitch landrieu, racism, slavery
     
   

A statue of Andrew Jackson in New Orleans, Louisiana, boasts a statement attributed to the Army general and future president: "The Union must and shall be preserved." Photo: Anne G

The city of New Orleans, Louisiana, is removing four monuments to racist and controversial figures yet one statue, that of Andrew Jackson, remains despite calls to take it down. But even as Mayor Mitch Landrieu acknowledges the city's indigenous roots and the former U.S. president's connection to slavery, he is silent on the future of that particular monument:
Last month, New Orleans began the long-overdue process of removing four statues honoring the lost, and immoral, Confederate cause. This week, we continue the job.

Getting here wasn’t easy. It took a two-year review process, a City Council vote and victories over multiple legal challenges. The original firm we’d hired to remove the monuments backed out after receiving death threats and having one of his cars set ablaze. Nearly every heavy-crane company in southern Louisiana has received threats from opponents. Some have likened these monuments to other monuments around the world from bygone eras, and have argued that civic resources would be better spent trying to educate the public about the history they embody. Respectfully, that’s not the point. As mayor, I must consider their impact on our entire city. It’s my job to chart the course ahead, not simply to venerate the past.

More than almost any other city in the world, New Orleans is truly a city of many nations. Between the native Choctaw, Houma Nation and Chitimacha tribes, the colonial explorers de Soto and de La Salle, the Acadians, the Haitians, the Senegambians and other African nations, the imperial powers of France and Spain, and ultimately the United States, our city is a cross-section of humanity in all its colors and cultures. In recent decades, our Vietnamese and Latino communities have flourished. We are a melting pot, a gumbo. That is our strength.

Read More on the Story:
Mitch Landrieu: New Orleans mayor: Why I’m taking down my city’s Confederate monuments (The Washington Post 5/11)

Also Today:
Confederate monuments in New Orleans: Where will they go next? (NOLA.Com 5/11)
Jefferson Davis Statue in New Orleans Is Removed (The New York Times 5/11)

Related Stories:
Confederate monuments start coming down as Andrew Jackson stays put (April 24, 2017)
Controversy simmers over Andrew Jackson statue in Louisiana (October 5, 2016)


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