NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu outlined a plan to relocate prominent Confederate monuments and rename Jefferson Davis Parkway.
During a city council meeting Thursday, Landrieu outlined his proposal, urging the city to undertake facilitated discussions and public meetings. Landrieu says the goal of this process is to offer opportunities for the people of New Orleans to discuss the renaming of Jefferson Davis Parkway and the relocation of prominent Confederate monuments.
These monuments include the Robert E Lee statue at Lee Circle; the Jefferson Davis statue on Jefferson Davis Parkway; the PGT Beauregard equestrian statue on Esplanade Avenue at the entrance to City Park; and, the Battle of Liberty Place Monument at Iberville Street.
He also proposed renaming Jefferson Davis Parkway to Dr. Norman C. Francis Parkway, who served as president of Xavier University for 47 years – the longest tenure of any university president in the nation. Dr. Francis attended Xavier University, and, in 1955, he became first African-American graduate of Loyola University Law School.
"This is about more than the men represented in these statues. This discussion is about whether these monuments, built to reinforce the false valor of a war fought over slavery, ever really belonged in a city as great as New Orleans whose lifeblood flows from our diversity and inclusiveness," said Mayor Landrieu. "Our history before and after the Civil War should not be neglected, nor our identity defined by the Confederacy – our identity is much broader and richer than these symbols."
Landrieu formally asked council to begin the legal process that governs the procedure for removal of public property structures deemed to be a nuisance. Following discussions, city council can, by ordinance, declare a monument or structure a nuisance and provide it's removal.
"We should not erase or uproot our past, and we should remember these important historical figures and moments in the right context. But, for example, I don't believe Gen. Robert E. Lee's place in the history of New Orleans should be revered," said Mayor Landrieu. "It would be better for all our children, black and white, to see symbols in prominent places in our city that make them feel proud of their city and inspire them to greatness. We should do our part to remove these symbols of supremacy from places of reverence that no longer, if ever, reflect who we are. The moral arc of the history bends as it usually does, towards justice. But it does not bend on its own. That is left to us."
However, many in New Orleans do not agree with Landrieu. His proposal has met extensive opposition.
"With the state capitols and the Confederate flags coming down, I think that's the right thing to do, but I'm not so sure about extending that to other symbols of the Civil War," monument supporter Marianne Knight said.