Category: Struggle for African American equality
Charlottesville, White Supremacy, and Why the US Civil War Never Ended
A white supremacist arrives at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, US, August 12, 2017.

Charlottesville, White Supremacy, and Why the US Civil War Never Ended

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John Wight
Charlottesville Violence During Pro-Confederate Protest in US’ Virginia (48)
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The ugly events that have just taken place in Charlottesville, VA are a stark reminder that the cancer of white supremacy continues to fester in America - and not just at the level of a few hundred knuckle dragging racists marching with Confederate flags.

On the contrary, white supremacy is rooted in the very foundations of America, and remains wedded into the very fabric of its society and culture.

Let us not mince words. If ever a cause was unworthy, that cause was the US Confederacy. If ever a cause was righteously defeated in battle, it was the cause of the US Confederacy. And if ever a flag was and is an insult to human decency and dignity, it is the Confederate flag.

White nationalists carry torches on the grounds of the University of Virginia, on the eve of a planned Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S
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White nationalists carry torches on the grounds of the University of Virginia, on the eve of a planned Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S

The mere fact this is still being debated in the United States, the fact there are those who continue to accord a nobility, valor, and romanticism to the Confederacy  -  regarded wistfully as the “Lost Cause” to its adherents  —  this is evidence of the deep polarization that divides a society yet to fully come to terms with its legacy of slavery, racial oppression, and brutality.

Four million human beings  —  men, women, and children  —  were owned as chattel by the start of the US Civil War in 1861. They were bought and sold, raped, beaten, tortured and murdered upon the whim of their owners, whose barbarity has its modern equivalence in the barbarity of the followers and members of the so-called Islamic State (also known as Daesh).

When white racist fanatic, Dylann Roof, slaughtered nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina back in 2015, he unwittingly exposed the truth that the US Civil War remains the defining event in the nation’s history, which still today informs a cultural divide between North and South.

The reason for this lies not so much in the legitimacy of the Confederate/southern cause  —  indeed how could a cause defined by the right to keep human beings as slaves ever be considered legitimate  -  but in the weakness of progressive forces in succumbing to the mythology that has been ascribed to the Confederacy and to those who fought and died for it. Indeed, if ever a society was crying out for the aggressive assertion of human rights, racial equality, and justice, it is the United States.

Racial oppression, whether delivered from the gun of a mass murderer in a South Carolinian church, or the gun of a police officer, has yet to be expunged in the land of the free, even though 150 years have passed since the Confederacy was defeated in battle.

There are historical reasons why this is so, but one in particular: namely the decision of the 18th US President, Rutherford B. Hayes, to end Reconstruction as a condition of his entry into the White House with the support of southern Democrats, a tawdry political deal known to history as the Compromise of 1877. It marked the end of a decade in which so-called Radical Republicans (referred to pejoratively as Black Republicans), in control of the US Congress, had driven forward a federal program to promote and uphold the rights of former slaves throughout the South, according them the full civil and political rights that their status as free men and women demanded.

This was absolutely necessary immediately upon war’s end, when local politicians assumed control of state legislatures across the South and enacted “black codes” with the objective of keeping newly freed black slaves in as close to a state of their former bondage as was possible, refusing to grant them their civil rights or the vote.

A white nationalist demonstrator with a helmet and shield walks into Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. Hundreds of people chanted, threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays on each other Saturday after violence erupted at a white nationalist rally in Virginia.
© AP Photo/ Steve Helber
A white nationalist demonstrator with a helmet and shield walks into Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. Hundreds of people chanted, threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays on each other Saturday after violence erupted at a white nationalist rally in Virginia.

The reaction of the North was to divide the former Confederate states into military districts and occupy them with federal troops to ensure the protection of blacks from white racists and to enforce their civil rights. This was accompanied by the demand that those former Confederate states support the passage of the three post-civil war amendments to the US Constituion  —  the 13th, 14th, and 15th  —  outlawing slavery and granting rights of citizenship and the vote to every person born in the United States regardless of race or color in every state.

The end of Reconstruction in 1877, and the withdrawal of federal troops from states such as South Carolina, resulted in the plight of blacks in said states suffering a sharp reverse. The Klu Klux Klan’s influence and power as America’s first terrorist organization instantly made its presence felt, measured in the rise and entrenchment of white supremacy as a state, and the culture of segregation returned across the South. Blacks were lynched, murdered, and tortured with impunity from then on, and their status as second-class citizens entrenched.

This mindset remains a fact of life not just across the South, but across the United States, carried in the hearts and minds of right-wing Republicans and an alt-right movement that has worked to normalize the politics of race in recent years, whipping up division and spewing out prejudice and racial stereotypes with blithe disregard for common decency.

By far the most telling evidence of the emergence of white supremacy in recent times was the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States in 2016. Trump’s bigoted rhetoric on migrants, Mexicans, Muslims, and minorities gave license to racists and white nationalists and Nazis all over America, lending their creed the kind of legitimacy that would have been unthinkable previously.

Indeed, one of his key advisers, Steve Bannon, credited with steering Trump all the way from political obscurity to the White House, is a national figurehead and icon of the nation’s alt-right movement.

It is said that those who sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind. Charlottesville is a reminder of how the past intrudes on the present, and of the folly in romanticizing history instead of learning from it.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

Check out John’s Sputnik radio show, Hard Facts.

How U. S. Capitalism Opened the Door to Racial Oppression

How U. S. Capitalism Opened the Door to Racial Oppression

 

By W. T. Whitney Jr.

 

Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (https://eji.org/), recently surveyed U. S. patterns of violent racial oppression following the end of slavery. Pointing to South Africa, Rwanda, and Germany as countries that, for the sake of healing, confronted their own histories of racial oppression, he called upon America to follow their examples: “We can’t change our past, but we can acknowledge it and better shape our future.” (1)

 

He adds that, “in America, we barely acknowledge the history and legacy of slavery, we have done nothing to recognize the era of lynching, and only in the last few years have a few monuments to the Confederacy been removed in the South.” Stevenson presumably is calling upon Americans both to remember their history of oppressing black people and to fight racism.

 

However, many white people who do acknowledge historical truths are silent as to the outcome and impact of racial oppression. They are the intellectual heirs of many southerners without slaves, northerners who tolerated slavery, and later Americans who went along with lynchings, judicial perversions, and Jim Crow. The question is: why have great numbers of whites in the United States never engaged on the side of justice for black people?

 

White people aspiring to fix racial injustice in the United States are on a rocky road. Woven into the fabric of their society are the mores and practices of capitalism. These bear on human relationships notable for competition, notions of the inevitability of losers, free rein for individual prerogatives, and the measuring stick of monetary worth. When it comes to solidarity with an underclass, a majority of white Americans have usually looked the other way. And white Americans, and maybe blacks, have been leery about challenging their society’s established order, which includes class divisions. They fear repercussions.

 

The idea here is that the association of racial oppression with capitalism led to its becoming a fixture within U. S. society. A survey of both the capitalist nature of slavery and capitalist modes of repression after the Civil War serves to document the use of racial oppression for preserving the capitalist status quo. In both eras, white people readily accepted the kinds of violent racial oppression cited by Mr. Stevenson. Recycling old justifications, later generations continued to abuse black people.

 

The Slavery System

 

A giant entrepreneurial machine was operating in the southwestern U. S. frontier of the early 1800s. Its bare- bones story is of land seized from Native Americans, cotton plantations multiplying, slaves producing cotton, cotton being processed in England, great wealth accumulating, and the wherewithal being created for U. S. industrialization.

 

In 1836 cotton production accounted for “almost half of the economic activity of the United States” and “More than half of all American exports between 1815 and 1860 consisted of cotton,” with almost 80 percent of it heading for Great Britain. (2) Between 1800 and 1860 cotton production increased by a factor of 130; “Planter entrepreneurs … became the richest class of white people in the United States.” (3)

Historian Edward Baptist also reports that, “two million slaves worth over $1 billion” represented “the biggest pool of collateral” in the United States, “20 percent of private U. S. wealth,” and “the most liquid part of that wealth.” Moreover, profits derived from slavery and cotton production were reinvested to create “the world’s second industrial revolution.” In fact, cotton enabled the United States to develop “the fastest growing economy in the world.” (4)

 

Walter Johnson tells how land “upriver” from New Orleans “was materially subservient to the caprice of speculators in distant markets,” such that, “The cords of credit and debt – of advance and obligation – that cinched the Atlantic economy together were anchored together with the mutually defining values of land and slave: without land and slaves, there was no credit, and without slaves, land itself was valueless.” (5)

 

Lending by the Bank of the United States (BUS) in the lower Mississippi Valley was 16 times greater in 1832 than was the case in 1824. The infusion of capital financed a “massive expansion of the internal slave trade.” The movement of slaves from coastal to southwestern states fueled the “boom times.” Baptist explains that, “The well-connected [Isaac] Franklin firm drew up to $40,000 at a time from the BUS to buy slaves in the East …[A]bout 5 percent of all the commercial credit handled by the BUS in 1831-35 passed through … this single slave partnership.” (6)

 

Modern and Worldwide

 

South Carolina’s senator John C. Calhoun was the lead ideologist for slavery and cotton interests. Baptist credits Calhoun’s theories as being “modern, tailored to a market economy.” Calhoun measured “people as factors of production” and “believed that entrepreneurs should be able to wield private property without restraint.” “Enslavers … saw themselves as … running a highly successful innovative sector of the world economy.” (7)

 

Historian Sven Beckert describes a gala event in Manchester, England. The celebrating Chamber of commerce members had created “a global web of agriculture, commerce, and industrial production. Merchants brought raw cotton from around the world and took it to British factories, home to two thirds of the world’s cotton spindles. An army of workers spun than cotton into thread and wove it into finished fabrics; then dealers sent those wares out to the world’s markets.” (8)

 

Beckert’s book, Empire of Cotton, is about the “rise and fall of the European – dominated empire of cotton. But because of the centrality of cotton, its story is also the story of the making and remaking of global capitalism and with it if the modern world.” It “offers a history of capitalism in action.” (9)

 

He notes that, “enterprising entrepreneurs and powerful statesmen in Europe recast the world’s most significant manufacturing industry by combining imperial expansion and slave labor with new machines and wage workers.“ Actually, “cotton made possible both the birth of capitalism and its subsequent reinvention.” Beckert maintains that, “It was on the back of cotton, and thus on the back of slaves, that the US economy ascended in the world.” (10)

 

The modern historians were echoing Karl Marx, that most serious student of capitalism. “Direct slavery is just as much the pivot of bourgeois industry as machinery, credits, etc.,” Marx wrote in 1846; “Without slavery you have no cotton; without cotton you have no modern industry. It is slavery that has given the colonies their value; it is the colonies that have created world trade, and it is world trade that is the pre-condition of large-scale industry.”

 

Marx later remarked that “[T]he slave-holding states in the United States of North America . . . are associated with a world market based on capitalist production.” And, “The fact that we now not only call the plantation owners in America capitalists, but that they are capitalists, is based on their existence as anomalies within a world market based on free labor.” (11)

 

“Free” Blacks Kept in Check

 

As W. E. B. Dubois reported in his Black Reconstruction, “The slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery.” (12) Southern landowners, eager to restore the cotton economy, reasserted control. They improvised, because now they had to cope with laborers seeking wages or land of their own to farm. The former Confederate elite worried that black workers might follow the path of white northern counterparts who were then agitating for better lives. During Reconstruction, formerly enslaved blacks had already asserted themselves politically.

 

White political leaders responded by inflaming racial prejudice in order to facilitate repression. Northern politicians, the media, and other opinion-shapers launched a virulent anti-black propaganda campaign in order to subjugate blacks and, not least, to ward off incipient black – white unity in labor struggles.

 

Studies show that racist attitudes can be turned off and on. Writing in 1948, sociologist Oliver Cromwell Cox holds that U. S. race relations “are definitely not caste relations. They are labor – capital – profits relationships.” (13) For analyst Adolph Reed Jr., race is a “social category.” (14)

 

Reed cites the example of amicable relations between white indentured servants and the relatively few African slaves working in 18th century Virginia. Governmental rules differentiating the two groups were lacking, that is, until colonial authorities applied repressive regulations solely to African slaves. They did so because fewer indentured servants were arriving, plantations were requiring more labor, and poor whites were restive.

 

Later, as U. S. slavery peaked, slave-owners cut back on racist rhetoric and provocations; they already possessed ample power over their slaves, quite enough for forcing slaves to produce and for warding off rebellions. (15)

 

Cox explains the outburst of racism after slavery’s end: “[I]n the United States the race problem developed out of the need of the planter class, the ruling class, to keep the freed Negro exploitable. To do this, the ruling class had to do what every ruling class had to do; that is, develop mass support of the policy. Race prejudice was and is the convenient vehicle … Race prejudice in the United States is the socio-attitudinal matrix supporting a calculated and determined effort of a white ruling class to keep some people or peoples of color and their resources exploitable.” (16)

 

What Matters

 

Stevenson calls upon white people to acknowledge the truth about racial oppression and to act accordingly. But he may find few takers. Many white Americans, including political leaders, harbor underlying suspicions that actions taken to achieve real equality for black people may somehow be destabilizing. For them, such initiatives may contain the seeds of a resistance carrying the potential for shaking up the established, or capitalist, order of things.

 

And, Americans in great numbers, blacks and whites alike, identity with economic expansion, gratification of individual initiative, and possibilities for accumulation, all hallmarks of U. S. capitalism. Violent racial oppression may have gotten a pass from the fact that its tenure in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries coincided with the U. S. economic and political rise in the world.

 

Capitalism’s association with racial oppression says a lot about how to end it. Resistance informed by moral outrage, or dedication to human rights, has achieved much, but not enough; black people are still being exploited and oppressed. Such victimization will only end, it seems, when the basics of the exploitative capitalist system change.

 

To the point: let horror at the brutalities of an overarching system dedicated to greed be joined with horror at the slave’s suffering, at a police shooting of a black man, at the black defendant railroaded to prison. The time is now for carrying out the fight to end racial oppression within the framework of a larger struggle, the one to replace capitalism.

 

Addendum: How one family tolerated, and carried out, racial oppression

 

Putting out his call for acknowledging and taking responsibility, Bryan Stevenson could have been speaking directly to my own family. We are whites and most family members have neither spoken out against racial injustice nor dealt with ancestors’ leading roles in perpetrating the worst abuses of slavery.

 

The mother of my maternal grandfather was the great niece of the slave trader Isaac Franklin, mentioned above. She was the foster daughter of John Armfield, Franklin’s slave –trading partner.

 

When he died in 1846, Isaac Franklin, the South’s wealthiest man, owned six plantations in Louisiana (one would become Angola Prison); another in Gallatin, Tennessee; hundreds of slaves; and thousands of acres in Texas. According to Smithsonian Magazine, “Franklin & Armfield put more people on the market than anyone—perhaps 25,000—broke up the most families and made the most money. About half of those people boarded ships in Washington or Norfolk, bound for Louisiana, where Franklin sold them. The other half walked from the Chesapeake to the Mississippi River, 1,100 miles.” (17) The Franklin & Armfield firm maintained its headquarters and a “slave pen” in Alexandria, Virginia.

 

On his father’s side, my grandfather was the grandson of someone who migrated from Harford County, Maryland to Mississippi where, in the early 19th century, he became a planter, merchant, and land speculator. Other Harford County people, related by marriage to my own family, did likewise. They were joining in on the national project of making good in the Mississippi Valley.

 

Notes:

  1. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2017/07/13/presumption-of-guilt/
  2. Edward E. Baptist, The Half Has Never Been Told, (Basic Books, NY, 2014), 322; Sven Beckert, Empire of Cotton, (Vintage Books, NY, 2015), 119
  3. Baptiste, op. cit., 142-143
  4. Ibid., 245, 312, 113
  5. Walter Johnson, River of Dark Dreams, (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA and London, 2013), 2, 87
  6. Baptiste, op. cit., 238-239
  7. Ibid., 300 -301, 346
  8. Beckert, op. cit., ix
  9. Ibid., xi, xv
  10. Ibid., xi, xx,119
  11. The excerpts from Marx are taken from his The Poverty of Philosophy: A Reply to M. Proudhon’s Philosophy of Poverty, Grundrisse, and Theories of Surplus Value, Part III. They appear together at http://www.sojournertruth.net/marxslavery.pdf
  12. W. E. B. Dubois, Black Reconstruction in America, (The Free Press /Simon & Schuster, New York, 1998), 30
  13. Oliver Cromwell Cox, Race, a Study in Social Dynamics, (Monthly Review Press, NY, 2000), 21 (“published previously as the final section (Chapter 16 – 25) of the author’s “Caste, Class, and Race,” 1948)
  14. http://www.kclabor.org/class_versus_race.htm
  15. Cox, op. cit., 170
  16. Ibid., 170
  17. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/slavery-trail-of-tears-180956968/
Green Party of New Orleans opposes monument legislation

Green Party of New Orleans opposes monument legislation

The Green Party of New Orleans decries current efforts of the state legislature to impede the removal of Confederate monuments from our local streetscape. 

“The Green Party finds that local grassroots governing best serves communities,” said Anika Ofori, a Green Party of New Orleans organizer and member of the Green Party of the United States Black Caucus. “Recent events reveal the psychological significance of these confederate monuments very clearly. Removing these monuments to a place where their history is recognized, as Confederates, can be achieved in an appropriate location.”

The fight to have such monuments removed is decades long. In 2015, the will of the people and the will of our municipality converged into an overwhelming vote to remove. These monuments were deemed public nuisances and declared to no longer represent the values the city wishes to achieve in our future.

Legislative opposition, just as the final plans for removal are implemented, shows how important it is for the city to continue with the removal. The state legislature’s attempt to block the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee meddles in our city’s concerted resolve to remove public exaltation of the crime of slavery.

Given the Legislative Black Caucus’ walkout from this process, this legislation creates the specter of largely white legislators’ foisting racist laws on the state’s largest city, which also happens to be majority African American.

“Sadly, this is nothing new,” said local party member David Bryan. “It is clear that the state legislature identifies with monied interests at the expense of the state’s most vulnerable and largely African American citizens.”

In 2002, New Orleanians approved a referendum increasing the city’s minimum wage by one dollar over the federal minimum wage, and the state promptly outlawed this modest pay increase for some of her poorest citizens. In 1998, New Orleans’ then-mayor Marc Morial filed a class-action lawsuit against gun manufacturers for the gun violence plaguing the city. Despite a decade of record-setting murders in New Orleans, Louisiana’s legislature sided with the gun manufacturers over the interests of her own citizens and passed legislation that retroactively stopped the lawsuit.

“We are alarmed at the continued attempt to abrogate and override local municipal control,” said Ryan Hargis, Secretary of the Green Party of Louisiana. “The decentralization of political power is a key value for Greens. Decision-making must remain with the communities most affected by the decisions.”

CALL TO ACTION: We urge all Greens in Louisiana, and any residents who care about these issues, to contact their senators and urge them to oppose House Bill 71, House Bill 292, Senate Bill 198, and any other bills which would impede the will of the people in removing monuments to white supremacy.

Find your legislators via the Louisiana State Legislature website.

NC Republicans illegally used race during redistricting, US Supreme Court rules

https://www.rt.com/usa/389263-nc-racial-redistricting-scotus/

NC Republicans illegally used race during redistricting, US Supreme Court rules

NC Republicans illegally used race during redistricting, US Supreme Court rules
North Carolina’s GOP-led legislature illegally used race to redraw congressional districts, the Supreme Court has ruled. It’s the latest case where justices ruled against race-based redistricting, even after tossing many protections for minority voters.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that North Carolina relied too heavily on race when redrawing two congressional districts in the Tar Heel State. The justices unanimously rejected the “reshuffle” of voters in District 1 and voted 5-3 to reject that of District 12. The decision upheld a lower court’s ruling from last February.

“The Constitution entrusts states with the job of designing congressional districts,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the majority. “But it also imposes an important constraint: A state may not use race as the predominant factor in drawing district lines unless it has a compelling reason.”

In recent statewide and federal elections, North Carolina split along partisan lines, but Republicans hold 10 of the 13 congressional districts in 2016, compared to only six in 2010. The GOP-controlled legislature, which redrew the map in 2013, argued that its redistricting effort was an attempt to protect majorities for its politicians, which is allowed, and not a way to diminish the impact of minority voters.

The justices disagreed, finding that the 1st District ‒ in which the black voting-age population increased from 47.6 percent to 52.65 percent ‒ “produced boundaries amplifying divisions between blacks and whites,” while in the 12th ‒ in which the black voting-age population increased from 43.7 percent to 50.66 percent ‒ “race, not politics, accounted for the district’s reconfiguration,” Kagan wrote.

Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy, dissented on the court’s ruling for the 12th District, believing that the district was redrawn to help Republicans, not to disenfranchise black voters in neighboring districts.

“Partisan gerrymandering is always unsavory, but that is not the issue here,” Alito wrote, referring to redistricting that favors one party. “So long as the legislature chose to retain the basic shape of District 12 and to increase the number of Democrats in the district, it was inevitable that the Democrats brought in would be disproportionately black.”

Monday’s ruling, Cooper v. Harris, is significant because of a 2013 decision in which the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to overturn a key part of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965. This law was put in place during the Civil Rights Movement to obstruct voting for African-Americans in historically racist states as part of the systemic discrimination known as Jim Crow laws, which were adopted in the century following the abolition of slavery.

The part that was invalidated, Section 4, explained the formula used by Congress to identify regions of the US subject to extra scrutiny when local lawmakers try to change election rules. States that prevented African Americans from registering to vote or running for office, in addition to other infractions, were singled out by Section 4.

Despite the 2013 decision, federal courts still found that state redistricting and voter identification laws are discriminatory. Along with such rulings in North Carolina, judges held that two different strict voter ID laws in Texas and the use of prison populations to manipulate voting districts in Florida and Virginia were all unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court also upheld the practice of creating voting districts based on the total population, throwing out a challenge last April that would have seen them redrawn based on eligible voters instead. The decision was seen as a boon to the Democrats, as accounting for the total population, which includes children, felons, and noncitizens, can lead to vast differences in the number of voters in a particular district, as well as differences in the power of those voters.

In 2015, the Supreme Court also found that individual majority-minority legislative districts in Alabama were racially gerrymandered, forcing the state to redraw its electoral map. In March, the justices called for further review of 11 state legislative districts in Virginia, because it appeared that “race for its own sake” was unconstitutionally “the overriding reason for choosing one map over others,” Kennedy wrote.

“This is a watershed moment in the fight to end racial gerrymandering,” former US Attorney General Eric Holder, who is now the chair of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee after focusing on redistricting during his time at the Department of Justice, said in a statement.

“North Carolina’s maps were among the worst racial gerrymanders in the nation,” he continued. “Today’s ruling sends a stark message to legislatures and governors around the country: Racial gerrymandering is illegal and will be struck down in a court of law.”

Governor Roy Cooper (D-North Carolina) was named as a plaintiff in the case, even though he was not yet in office when arguments were heard. He praised the decision Monday.

“North Carolina voters deserve a level playing field and fair elections, and I’m glad the Supreme Court agrees,” he said in a statement. “The North Carolina Republican legislature tried to rig congressional elections by drawing unconstitutional districts that discriminated against African-Americans and that’s wrong.”

Republicans complained about the ruling, however, saying it compounds “the confused state of the law.”

“The Supreme Court says race can be a factor in redistricting but not the predominant factor, a rule that is so vague, so broad, and so lacking in a definable legal standard that it is not really a rule at all,” Hans von Spakovsky of the conservative Heritage Foundation said.

New Orleans Removes Third Confederate Monument Amid Threats
P.G.T. Beauregard Statue

New Orleans Removes Third Confederate Monument Amid Threats

© AP Photo/ Gerald Herbert
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The city of New Orleans has taken down a third Confederate monument amid massive tensions and threats.

Shortly after 3 a.m. on Wednesday, city workers donning helmets and bulletproof vests removed a statue of Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard. Demonstrators, both for and against the monuments removal gathered at the scene.

“Today we take another step in defining our City not by our past but by our bright future,” Democratic New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a statement. “While we must honor our history, we will not allow the Confederacy to be put on a pedestal in the heart of New Orleans.”Last week, a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was removed and placed in a warehouse with the other monuments until an appropriate home for them can be determined.

“After nearly two years of planning and court battles, City officials began the process today of removing the three remaining monuments that prominently celebrate the ‘Lost Cause of the Confederacy.’ The statues that are being removed were erected decades after the Civil War to celebrate the ‘Cult of the Lost Cause,’ a movement recognized across the South as celebrating and promoting white supremacy,” Landrieu’s office said in a statement as the workers were removing the Davis monument last Thursday.

Late last month, workers removing the first statue also donned helmets, masks and bulletproof vests, as they had reportedly received death threats.The statue was erected in 1891 to honor the failed rebellion of the Crescent City White League militia, which sought to topple the biracial government after the Civil War.Landrieu began his quest to remove the offending statutes two years ago, but faced legal hurdles and challenges by opponents. Those who wanted the monuments to stay cited historical relevance and context.

There is now one more monument that the city has set for removal, that of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, which will surely be the most contentious removal.

Confederate monuments: Washington and Lee University not interested in New Orleans statues

http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/05/confederate_monuments_robert_e_1.html

With the monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee the final of four expected to be taken down in New Orleans, there’s one place to cross off the list as its possible destination: Washington and Lee University.

In a May 10 email to NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, a spokeswoman for Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s office wrote that “Landrieu and members of his staff have spoken with individuals affiliated with a number of different organizations — including Washington and Lee University, Beauvoir and the Smithsonian Museum — to gauge interest” in acquiring the city’s four Confederate monuments slated for removal.

However, a spokeswoman for Washington and Lee subsequently reached out to NOLA.com to deny that any such conversation had taken place, saying she was “not aware of anyone from the city of New Orleans contacting Washington and Lee about the statues.”

A spokesman for Landrieu has since clarified the original statement.

“An alum of Washington and Lee mentioned that university as a possibility,” said Landrieu’s communications director, Tyronne Walker. “Since that time, we have received communication officially saying to us that in fact Washington and Lee is not a good option from their perspective because the statue that exists in New Orleans is about his time as a soldier, and their university focuses on any work he did around education post the war. … That’s the extent of our exploration of that option.”

Landrieu and his office have consistently said the four Confederate monuments — which, in addition to Lee, include statues of Jefferson Davis and P.G.T Beauregard and an obelisk commemorating the Battle of Liberty Place — should be placed somewhere in their “proper context,” but there has yet to be consensus as to what that will be once all four are removed. Until those determinations are made, the monuments are being housed in an undisclosed city warehouse.

In an interview last week, Thomas Payne, executive director at Beauvoir, the Biloxi, Mississippi, home housing Jefferson Davis’ presidential library, confirmed his team would appreciate any of the Confederate monuments.

Walker didn’t know which specific museum within the Smithsonian Institution might be interested in the monuments, but noted it’s possible the four statues could be sent in different directions.

“Our focus has primarily been on the removal process. … The truth is (where they end up) is not determined yet,” he said. “We’re open to ideas from institutions and museums who may be interested in the monuments once we have some viable options.”

Green Party of New Orleans statement on monuments

http://www.lagreens.org/nola_monuments?utm_campaign=gpnola_may17&utm_medium=email&utm_source=greenpartylouisiana

The Green Party of New Orleans enthusiastically supports the City’s efforts to remove monuments to white supremacy from the streets of New Orleans, and we wholeheartedly endorse the efforts of Take Em Down NOLA in pressing the demands of this cause.

Jefferson Davis, Slave Owner

As students of history, we know that these monuments were not erected as memorials to the Civil War so much as symbols aiming to reinforce the dominant ideology of white supremacy. The Confederacy, after all, lost the war, and slavery was outlawed; the monuments were designed to say, “Yet still, we rule.” They were designed to maintain and reproduce a harsh and rigid racial caste system.

It is time to unequivocally repudiate this oppressive system. Removing these monuments is symbolic of that ongoing effort.

We understand the value of historical artifacts. We call on the City administration to take great care with the monuments, once removed, to ensure that they are placed in a proper educational context, where they can be studied and remembered for what they are.

We are proud of the leading role that liberatory activists in our city have played in the long struggle for justice. At the same time, we recognize that this work is far from complete. As the struggle continues, we aim to work with those who organize and fight for justice and liberty.

[Revised 13 May 2017]