By SHARLENE SINEGAL DECUIR APRIL 28, 2017, New York Times [original article contains links]
Image from article, with caption: People visiting the Robert E. Lee monument in New Orleans on Monday
NEW ORLEANS — The City of New Orleans is known for its rich history with its
French and Spanish influences. Tourists flock here all year long to experience the
fun, laid-back atmosphere. It is one of the more inclusive places one can visit in the
United States. And the people of New Orleans are the heart, soul and spirit of the
About 60 percent of the population is African-American. They add to the flavor
of New Orleans through its art, food, language and music. Unfortunately, there are
Confederate monuments sprinkled throughout the city.
This week, workers finally began removing those monuments. Who wants to be
reminded on a daily basis of the atrocities committed on American soil by American
citizens? I’m a civil rights historian, and I know that horrible period in our history
can never be undone. But what transpired does not need glorification, and it
certainly does not need monuments symbolizing division, hate and racial strife.
After Reconstruction many Southern states, including Louisiana, wanted to
show their pride in fighting the Civil War and to maintain a legacy of white
supremacy and segregation. Between 1884 and 1893, the City of New Orleans
erected four monuments, three of which honored the leaders of the Confederate
States of America: Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate troops; Jefferson
Davis, president of the Confederate States of America; and P.G.T. Beauregard, a
Confederate general. The fourth monument, an obelisk, commemorated the Battle of
Liberty Place, in which black police officers were killed during a violent uprising in
1874 by the Crescent City White League, a white supremacist group opposed to the
city’s biracial collaboration. This is the first monument that has been dismantled.
I say good riddance. Confederate monuments should be housed in a museum.
We cannot run from history, nor should we try. But as Americans we should not
celebrate intolerance, division and hate. And we should move on.
Sharlene Sinegal DeCuir is an assistant professor of history at Xavier University of