New Orleans: The Confederate monument of Robert E. Lee is the last to go

On Friday, the final Confederate statue was removed from Lee Circle in New Orleans. This is the fourth and final statue that theNew Orleans City Council in 2015 voted to remove the Confederate landmarks. The bronze, 60-foot-tall statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee has stood for 133 years. Among the city’s oldest landmarks, the monuments were ordered by New Orleans’ Mayor Mitch Landrieu to be removed after the Charleston massacre in 2015.

The historical Robert E. Lee monument is removed after 133 years on Lee Circle in New Orleans. (Alanderia Whitlock)

The nationwide controversy over the Confederate symbols has the nation divided where many say it represents history and heritage while others say it symbolizes division and oppression. First, the Battle of Liberty Place monument was removed, the Confederate President Jefferson Davis statue, then the General P.G.T. Beauregard statue was taken down.

Before the Civil War, Louisiana and the South’s economy was established in institutions of white supremacy and slavery. Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, two of the four statues removed, were slave owners and breeders. In 1860, Louisiana had a total population of 708,002 of which 47 percent were enslaved. There are a few argued reasons why the Civil War existed and one major reason was the South’s perseverance to maintain white supremacy and slavery.The Confederacy’s role in the Civil War was directly related to keeping things the way they were. Southern states seceded from the Union and promoted war against the United States government.

Although the Confederates were not tried for treason after the Civil War, their actions match the constitutional definition of the crime: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort,” according to the Section 110 of Article III of the Constitution.

After 750,000 people died in the Civil War, it left thousands of widows and orphans. Though the Confederates lost, they were not ready to give up their political power and position. The presence and display of the battle flag continues to be used for intimidation acknowledging many hate groups still wave and support it.

“Even General Robert E. Lee recognized that symbols of the Confederacy are symbols of treason,” Rep. Jared Huffman (Democrat-Calif.)

“Confederate symbols represent opposition to the United States of America,” Huffman said.

“It is not only black people and liberal Democrats who have reason to oppose Confederate symbols — veterans do, too.”
Other states are pushing to fight and preserve their Confederate symbols like the rally in Charlottesville, Virg. Led by white nationalist Richard Spencer, the event featured images of the Ku Klux Klan and songs of pro-Russian chants.

As Mississippi and members of Confederate veterans’ offspring groups continue to hold onto Confederate symbolism, the emblem does more than commemorate their loved ones, it also keeps the state divided by a racist history of heritage.

After Robert E. Lee is removed from Lee Circle on May 19, 2017 in New Orleans. (Alanderia Whitlock)

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