Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Confederate "Heritage" Month 2017, April 24: Removing Lost Cause monuments in New Orleans

I'm going to jump to the present day for this post. Because a moment in the opposition to neo-Confederate attitudes is making national news.

From MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show New Orleans Removes Confederate Monument 04/24/2017 with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu:

Note that Landrieu mentions a contractor's car being bombed, presumably by a neo-Confederate terrorist.

From MSNBC's Morning Joe New Orleans Mayor Discusses City’s Deportation Stance 04/25/2017, also featuring Mayor Landrieu:

And, yes, I'm running a day late on this post, so the post for April 24 is using a broadcast from April 25. Spacetime can be confusing.

In an early morning press release dated yesterday, Landrieu explained what the Liberty Place monument commemorated (City of New Orleans Begins Removal of Divisive Confederate Statues Commemorating “Cult of the Lost Cause” 04/24/2017):

The Battle of Liberty Place Monument at Iberville Street, was erected in 1891 (originally on Canal Street) in honor of the “Battle of Liberty Place,” an 1874 insurrection of the Crescent City White League, a group of all white, mostly Confederate veterans, who battled against the racially integrated New Orleans Metropolitan Police and state militia. The monument was meant to honor the members of the White League who died during the battle. In 1932, the City of New Orleans added a plaque to the monument, explicitly outlining its white supremacist sympathies, which explained that the battle was fought for the “overthrow of carpetbag government, ousting the usurpers" and that “the national election of November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state."

In 1989, construction on Canal Street forced the removal of the monument, but it was relocated to its current location on Iberville Street in 1993. At that time, the 1932 white supremacist plaque was covered with a new plaque that read: “In honor of those Americans on both sides who died in the Battle of Liberty Place… A conflict of the past that should teach us lessons for the future.”

Louis Harlan describes the event the now-removed monument celebrated in "Desegregation in New Orleans Public Schools During Reconstruction" American Historical Review 67:3 (Apr 1962):

The White League arose in 1874, spread quickly from the rural parishes to New Orleans, staged a three-day coup d'etat in September until the arrival of federal troops, and installed a Conservative city government in December. In the same period the position of mixed schools was weakened by the removal from the congressional civil rights bill of the school desegregation clause. The stage was set for the well-known school riots of December 1874, which reflected the momentary political climate of that period as clearly as the acquiescent mood of the previous three years reflected an opposite policy.

During three days of rioting, mobs often described as high school boys or "boy regulators" rudely ejected from mixed schools colored children who had been peacefully attending for years, insulted teachers, beat and threatened to hang the city superintendent. The White League and its newspaper supporters instigated and directed the mobs, which were composed mostly of men and adolescents not enrolled in the high schools, using a handful of high school rowdies as fronts. More- over, the riots failed to achieve their objective. Sober citizens persuaded the White League to call off "the boys," and the schools reopened after the holidays on a desegregated basis, remaining so for another two and a half years, until after Reconstruction.
Here are a couple of articles form the New Orleans Times-Picayune on the New Orleans Confederate monuments being removed: Kevin Litton, New Orleans Confederate monuments can come down, court rules 03/06/2017; Beau Evans, Removal of the first of four New Orleans Confederate monuments begins with Liberty Place 04/24/2017.

In another report, Litton describes the decades of protests against the pro-treason, pro-Confederate monuments: Efforts to remove Confederate monuments in New Orleans go back decades 03/14/2017.

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