Everyone knows that racism is over in America. We have a black president! Come on. Think about Oprah, and Jay Z is pretty famous too. What’s the problem, all those officially sanctioned monuments to violent white supremacist uprisings against the government? I mean, we’re working on taking them down. Baby steps.
The Associated Press reports this morning that a local commission in New Orleans’s French Quarter has voted in support of removing a 124-year-old obelisk memorializing a brief coup against Louisiana’s post-Civil War Reconstruction government, carried out by a group of ex-Confederates who called themselves the White League. The New Orleans Times-Picayune gives some history for the the Battle of Liberty Place monument, which stands 35 feet tall on the Quarter’s Iberville Street.
In 1874, a group of ex-Confederates launched a coup against the integrated, Republican-run Reconstruction government of Louisiana. The Democratic party, dominated by ex-Confederates and their sympathizers, had won a contested gubernatorial election two years earlier, but the federally backed Republicans threw out the results, saying their rivals rigged the election by suppressing the black vote.
A group called the Crescent City White League formed a 5,000-man militia and stormed New Orleans, the seat of state government at the time. The mob defeated a smaller force made up of the integrated Metropolitan Police force and state militia. The White League occupied government buildings for three days before retreating ahead of the arrival of federal regulars.
In 1932, White League supporters added a inscription to the monument celebrating the battle’s role in recognizing “white supremacy in the South and [giving] us our state,” which was not covered until 1981, WWL TV reports. In the 1970s, another plaque was added stating that “the sentiments in favor of white supremacy expressed thereon are contrary to the philosophy and beliefs of present-day New Orleans.”
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu also supports removing the monument, but a City Council vote is required before it can be taken down. After it’s gone, that’s it: we can all agree that the post-racial era has truly begun in this proud nation of ours. Right?