Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Caddo Parish: Take Down the Confederate Monument Now

I am one of five authors of the petition to remove the Confederate monument from the courthouse & place it at a designated historic site or museum. The Caddo Parish Commission was considering what to do with the Confederate monument long before our petition was created, and we appreciate their dedication to peacefully resolving this challenging issue.

Since becoming involved in this effort, I have learned a lot about this statue, its history, and its supporters – primarily from historians, lawyers, students, elected officials, current and former Caddo Parish residents, and white supremacists.

I’ve learned that on June 18, 1903, white citizens in Caddo Parish were violently resisting implementation of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, so Caddo Parish commissioned this monument commemorating the last stand of the Confederacy in Louisiana.

I’ve learned that in 1949, just two years before the Confederate flag was added to the statue, the Ku Klux Klan staged a “third re-activation” in the South, and began to use the flag as its emblem of racial bias. The Klan targeted Shreveport and Northwest Louisiana to become a central hub of its activities, and its chapters multiplied throughout the 1950s and ‘60s. By 1961, there were at least four chapters of the Klan in the Shreveport area, totaling over 1,000 members, with three additional chapters about to be chartered. The Confederate Flag flew for 60 years in front of the Caddo Parish Courthouse, and was finally removed for good in 2011, due to an overwhelming 11 - 1 vote by our representatives at the Caddo Parish Commission.

I’ve learned that “there is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it….(Confederate) statues were…erected….as part of…The Cult of the Lost Cause. This ‘cult’ had one goal — through monuments and through other means — to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity….It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America; they fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots.” (Mitch Landrieu)

I’ve learned that Confederate “monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for. After the Civil War, (Confederate) statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who (is) still in charge in this city.” (Mitch Landrieu)

To quote Mayor Mitch Landrieu: “To literally put the confederacy on a pedestal in our most prominent places of honor is an inaccurate recitation of our full past, it is an affront to our present, and it is a bad prescription for our future…History cannot be changed. It cannot be moved like a statue. What is done is done. The Civil War is over, and the Confederacy lost and we are better for it.”

I’ve learned that the most vocal - and dangerous - defenders of the Confederate statues are white supremacists. White supremacists say things like, “I’m not a racist, but…” or “I’m in the militia, but I’m not a racist,” or “We need to tear down the MLK statue – but I’m not a racist,” or “I have black friends,” or “I’ll defend the Confederate monument with my AK47.” They desperately cling to oversized granite reminders of their long-lost superiority, which they refer to as their “history.” 21st century ideals of racial and social equality are a serious threat to their fragile existence.

I’ve learned that I am completely incapable of comprehending the fear, anxiety and horror that people of color have endured in the South for hundreds of years. After only two weeks of being under attack by white supremacists, I am depressed, scared, and exhausted. Being able to survive generations of this brutal treatment is beyond my scope of understanding. White people are completely incapable of understanding the American Black experience. Completely. Incapable.

I’ve learned that white people owe our hearts, minds and power to fighting for FULL RACIAL EQUALITY under the law. We owe a debt to our Black neighbors that can NEVER be fully repaid. White supremacists live and breathe to keep Black people scared, broken and subservient. We who have the ability (and our "sacred" white privilege) must forever banish racist lawmakers, law-breakers and terrorists from our civilized society in the name of love and human decency.

Removing Confederate monuments is a good start. But in order to eliminate white supremacy from our midst, we must completely flush out this evil from our state legislature, our courthouses, our neighborhoods, our schools, our places of worship...we must commit to calling out white supremacy EVERY TIME WE WITNESS IT. Without exception.

White supremacists have no moral compass or empathy; they will sacrifice everything to keep their perceived power over Black people. While there are many more of us than there are them, we must never underestimate their willingness to martyr themselves for their "Lost Cause."

If you would like to sign the petition to remove the Confederate statue at the Caddo Parish Courthouse, please sign here or email the Caddo Parish Commission at