Newell: Do we erase all our history?

Newell Normand
March 29, 2018 - 7:52 am

Over the weekend, Take 'Em Down Nola had a march calling for the removal of five more monuments in addition to the four Confederate monuments, that were already taken down. The statues they want to take down now include:  Andrew Jackson (at Jackson Square), Bienville (founder of New Orleans), U.S Senator Henry Clay, John McDonogh and Edward Douglas White, Jr.


Newell Normand spoke with Save NOLA Heritage and Take 'Em Down Nola.  Here are some of his HOT TAKES:


Andrew Jackson is one of those being targeted.  What about the 11 other presidents, who owned slaves?  Which, by the way, is over 25% of the presidents we have had.  We're talking about George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and more.


There's no perfect human.  I wonder whether we should recognize the failings and shortcomings of these folks, while at the same time we also recognize the visions and achievements of these folks.


Slavery was a contemporary feature and had been for a long time, going back to the times of Caesar and the Incas and further back in history.  Do we erase all of that history?


When we think about the contemporary thinking during the time these monuments went up, the people the monuments represent are defined by more than one single issue.  They were complex people.


I looked at the history of some of these men, John McDonough and Bienville for instance.  Bienville was trying to manage the different viewpoints of the French and the Spanish.  If you look at the island of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  The French controlled Haiti, and the Spanish controlled the Dominican Republican.  They developed very, very differently when it came to the issues of slaveholding and the rights of inhabitants of the island.


Bienville was meandering, because he had to balance the political influences of the French and the Spanish at the same time in the City of New Orleans.

Looking at Robert E. Lee, he was torn between the United States and his state of Virginia.  Many people don't know Abraham Lincoln offered Lee the command of the Union troops.  Lee was torn, and it wasn't until the bitter end that he decided he would side with the South because of his loyalty to the state of Virginia.

There were a number of African Americans who owned slaves.  It was said that Claude Treme, for whom the Treme neighborhood was named, owned slaves.  I haven't heard any calls for that neighborhood to be renamed.

Listen to Newell's whole conversation with Take 'Em Down Nola here.


And you can check out his conversation with Save NOLA Heritage in the two clips below.

And part 2.

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