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By: Roy Douglas Malonson, Publisher of African-American News & Issues & Author of column series We MUST Understand

“The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery. This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered. As a community, we must recognize the significance of removing New Orleans’ Confederate monuments. It is our acknowledgment that now is the time to take stock of, and then move past, a painful part of our history.”

These words were cited by Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans during a speech made after the last of four confederate statues were removed. Since the 1880’s, these monuments that were designed to pay homage to some of the leaders of the Confederate were stationed in New Orleans. Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Gen. Robert E. Lee, Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard and the Battle of Liberty Place were amongst the four statues that were removed. During his speech the mayor exposed many truths about our ancestral history, as it was during the inception of these United States. To that regard, I have always said that the term “history”, is just what the term means broken down, “His-story”.

We MUST Understand, for too long, our story as a race of people has been told by others who do not look like us. The truth about slaves who worked, fought and died to build this country has been white-washed; with symbolisms such as the rallied support of the Confederacy, that has existed for many years.  So to hear the mayor affirmatively educating and informing the nation about the true history of Africans in America, it really gave me a great sense of respect for the man. Mayor Landrieu revealed the following during his speech.

He said, “New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were bought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor of misery of rape, of torture . America was the place where nearly 4000 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…..”

He continued to say, “And it immediately begs the questions; why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynching’s 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.”

I must state that I admire the courageous move of the Mayor and I believe he should receive a medal for what he did. His efforts have already ignited a spark within other cities, like Baltimore. Mayor Catherine Pugh, of Baltimore has announced that they would like to have their confederate monuments removed as well. While it is a discussion that has been in the air for over a year in Baltimore, it appears that Mayor Landrieu’s bold display has reawakened the issue.

 

 

Though I commend the actions rendered by the Mayor, I must state that it caused me to consider our beloved Houston. In respect to the city of New Orleans, confronting the face and stance of what the Confederate was and stood for, it clearly shows that Houston has a long way to go. Many people live in this city, but have very little idea of what the name “Houston” means and stands for. Houston is named after Sam Houston, who owned at least a dozen slaves, himself. However, history does record that he was the only governor from the South that opposed secession, prior to the Civil War. He refused to swear allegiance to the Confederate States of America and was replaced as governor. However, the fact remains that even though Houston did not appear to want the spread of slavery to reach any further than it already had; he still condoned it within his personal life, by being the owner of slaves. One could easily conclude that his thought pattern was, “Do as I say and not as I do!”             Therefore, in terms of denouncing members of the Confederate and the endless images and historical sites that has been place throughout the nation to reverence them… All I can state is that, Houston has a long way to go. As it is, other cities are implementing measures to remove the momentous symbols that slavery and oppression against our ancestors left in place, in the form of the Confederacy. But, Houstonians have a much larger problem to deal with, because we live in a city that has a name, which is a constant reminder to the horrendous effects of slavery.

 

 

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