Why Many Are Calling This Speech By The Mayor Of New Orleans A Must-Read

"There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it."

A statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was removed from New Orleans' Lee Circle on Friday. It was the last of four Confederate monuments removed in the city since April, when Mayor Mitch Landrieu declared, "We will no longer allow the Confederacy to literally be put on a pedestal in the heart of our city."

He echoed this sentiment in a speech on Friday that many are praising for its eloquent response to those who would defend the monuments as a remembrance of history. (The decision to remove them was met with protests and even death threats, toward both the mayor and the contractors hired to remove the statues.)

Writer Shaun King shared video of the speech on Facebook this week, calling it "the single best speech ever given on why Confederate monuments must come down."

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Landrieu began his speech by describing New Orleans' rich history and diverse population. "But there are also other truths about our city that we must confront," he said, going on to describe New Orleans as "America's largest slave market," and the site of lynchings and segregation. 

"So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well, what I just described is real history as well," he said, "and it is the searing truth."

"There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it," Landrieu continued. "For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth."

Twitter users shared links to a transcript of the mayor's speech, calling it a "must-read" and using words such as "profound," "honest," "stunning" and "powerful" to describe it.

Landrieu explained in his speech that the monuments to Confederate leaders such as Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard were erected as part of "The Cult of the Lost Cause," whose goal was "to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity."

"These statues are not just stone and metal," the mayor said. "They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for."

The mayor went on to call these statues "symbols of White supremacy" and urged the city to move forward in creating new symbols, while emphasizing the need to change "attitudes and behavior" at the same time. "If we take these statues down and don't change to become a more open and inclusive society this would have all been in vain."

In closing, Landrieu said of the Confederacy, "This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered."

The speech was successful in changing at least one mind. "Bravo! I was leaning the other way.... why are you taking down monuments about your history? NOW I SEE," wrote a commenter on Facebook. "This explains the decision completely. New Orleans you are in good hands with a man like Mayor Landrieu. You will do well with him at the helm."

You can read a transcript of Mayor Landrieu's speech in the Facebook post above.

(H/T: HuffPost)

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