Confederate monument removal promotes true NOLA history

Amidst all the food, jazz, festivals and lazy charms of New Orleans, rarely do the words “used to be part of Confederate country” come to mind. Yet the city continues to have Confederate memorabilia scattered throughout, serving as daunting reminders of a horrifying past.

The statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, someone who literally fought to protect racial inequality, stuck out like a sore thumb as a diverse group of people milled around it at Lee Circle to show solidarity and unity after last year’s election results. After years of heated debates, however, a federal appeals court finally gave the city permission to take down the Confederate era monuments.

Those who oppose the replacement of the statues argue they represented a part of the city’s history. There were no actual battles fought in New Orleans during the Civil War, and General Lee was from Virginia with no connections to New Orleans. It was almost an insult to the city’s diverse and rich history to erect a statue that merely represented the history of its general geographic location. More than that, it was a direct insult to the city’s diverse and culturally rich population to commemorate a dark part of history that specifically stood against that very diversity.

“Symbols matter and should reflect who we are as people,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a press release. “These monuments do not now, nor have they ever reflected the history, the strength, the richness, the diversity or the soul of New Orleans.”

Though they are not a major attraction in the city, the monuments are still in the city and every single bit of the city, no matter how significant, should be a reflection of its true soul. The Confederate monuments serve the exact opposite purpose by making the actual souls of the city – the people – look up to someone who believed that more than half of them were inferior.

Now that the monuments are finally being taken down, it is time to replace them with something that accurately celebrates the history and culture of New Orleans without making a very harmful political statement. Perhaps artists like Tennessee Williams and Louis Armstrong could be commemorated instead. They imbibed the culture and soul of this city and flourished splendidly here, giving us some wonderful works of art. Even lesser-known jazz musicians, such as Kermit Ruffins, the Marsalis family or Jelly Roll Morton, who were born and raised in New Orleans, deserve much more recognition in their city than a Confederate general who had no loyalty to Louisiana.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Pratiksha is a freshman at Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached at [email protected].

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