Earlier this week, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu gave an incredible speech upon the removal of one of the Confederate memorials in the city of New Orleans. This speech is beautiful and powerful. Really amazing. You must read it. It’s worth the time.
He deserves a thank you card for standing up for the ideals of America, and for his fearlessness in confronting the tragic past of his beautiful city.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu
1300 Perdido St, 2nd Floor
New Orleans, LA 70112
From Landrieu’s speech (and really, the whole transcript deserves reading):
There are also other truths about our city that we must confront. New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were brought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor, of misery, of rape, of torture.
America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ‘separate but equal’; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp
So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.
And it immediately begs the questions: why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame … all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans.
So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission.
There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it. For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth.
As President George W. Bush said at the dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.”