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New Orleans City Council To Vote On Removal Of 4 Confederate Monuments

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

You know, when people talk about what makes New Orleans such a special city, you hear words like history and tradition. Well, now, some of the tradition is being challenged. Today, the city council is voting on the fate of four Confederate monuments, as Nina Feldman reports.

NINA FELDMAN, BYLINE: After the murder of nine black church members in Charleston, S.C., this past summer, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu wanted to remove four Civil War monuments. He chose a tribute to the White League, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, General PT Beauregard and Robert E. Lee, which stands on a 60-foot column in Lee Circle, a popular landmark and gathering place during Mardi Gras. Michael Moore, a poet known locally as A Scribe Called Quess, started the group Take 'Em Down NOLA and spoke recently at a heated public meeting.

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MICHAEL MOORE: The symbols are the heart of the matter. The symbols are the reason why we have a disparity 50 percent unemployment for black men - 50 percent. They are the seed of the ideology that created the systems that keep us enslaved today.

FELDMAN: Others said taking them down erases history. Stanley Richard says if these four monuments are removed, what next?

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STANLEY RICHARD: This will not end till every monument and statue is taken down, every name changed and the image of the fleur-de-lis is removed from the city.

FELDMAN: Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell says the community should choose which monuments to remove and which to leave alone. Otherwise, in a city with so many historical traditions, anything is at risk.

LATOYA CANTRELL: There's no better example than Mardi Gras. That comes every year and you are confronted with race right in your face. No one's talking about that. But when you allow for a process that is inclusive, it allows you to then put everything on the table and then determine what is more important.

FELDMAN: Right now, the council will decide about these four. Either they stay up or come down. For NPR News, I'm Nina Feldman in New Orleans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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