‘Battle of New Orleans’ as statues removed

On edge: New Orleans police warned of “high law enforcement presence” as statues were removed.

For some, they are symbols of racism and inequality. For others, they are simply expressions of history. The Confederate statues in New Orleans are being taken down. Is this the right move?

What’s happening

In the dead of night in New Orleans, workers began demolishing a statue. It was put up in 1891 to honour members of a Confederate group who fought against the New Orleans police in the 19th century.

It was the first of four to be taken down, and there have been protests surrounding their removal.

Find out more

This is the result of the latest of many debates about statues of people with doubtful histories.

The decision in New Orleans was taken by Mitch Landrieu, the city’s mayor. He wanted to send “a message that celebrates our inclusion and tolerance”.

Many people living in the city where most of the people are black are happy about the mayor’s decision.

But for some white people there, the decision feels like an attempt to erase history. A businessman called Frank B Stewart Jr published a letter in a local paper asking whether the pyramids should be removed because they were built by slaves.

It is a dispute which echoes all over the world. In Bristol, Colston Hall is to be renamed. It was named after Edward Colston, who became a rich man from the slave trade.

Some say…

Tearing down statues will not stop racism. We need reminders of the mistakes as well as the achievements of history. Faults can be found in the lives of many historical figures. It is better to understand the past, not erase it.

Others think…

This is the right decision. Imagine being an African-American, the descendant of slaves, and having to walk past these grotesque monuments every day. The US southern states must find a way to show what they stand for in the 21st century.

You Decide

  1. Do statues matter?

Activities

  1. Write a letter to the mayor of New Orleans explaining your views on pulling down statues.

Some People Say...

“It is easy to judge the past from the present, and to get it wrong.”

What do you think?

Word Watch

Confederate
A supporter of the Confederate States of America, also known as the Confederacy. They were known for wanting to preserve slavery, and treating black people very unfairly.
Echoes
Another debate was over a statue at Oxford University of Cecil Rhodes, a powerful British businessman who lived in South Africa. He believed Britain had the right to claim and rule countries round the world; people still argue about whether that policy benefited, or took advantage of, the local population.
Grotesque
Something so ugly and horrible that it shocks us.

Subjects

PDF Download

Please click on "Print view" at the top of the page to see a print friendly version of the article.