07/15 - Symbol or Statement? History in Public Spaces | Louisiana Public Square | LPB
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Video Playlist:

Play Button  Full Program - Full Program
Play Button  Extra - Three Distinct Memories - Gaines Foster, a Civil War historian at LSU, explains that each side has a distinct interpretation of the Civil War
Play Button  Extra - The Problem with General Lee - Gaines Foster, a Civil War historian at LSU, dissects Robert E. Lee’s qualities as a general versus a role model
Play Button  Extra - Slavery Underemphasized? - Ashley Rogers, Director of Operations at Whitney Plantation, says most Americans don’t realize how little they know about slavery
Play Button  Extra - The Learning Crisis - Ashley Rogers, Director of Operations at Whitney Plantation, explains why visitors are sometimes upset
Play Button  Extra - Black Lives Matter - Ashley Rogers, Director of Operations at Whitney Plantation, explains how a popular slogan has its roots in the past
Play Button  Extra - The Conversations We Need - Lloyd Thompson, head of the Shreveport NAACP, says the community needs to get past the statue to talk about real issues
Play Button  Extra - Flags of the Confederacy - Dr. Gary Joiner, a Civil War historian with LSU-Shreveport, walks through the five flags of the Confederacy and what they meant to soldiers
Play Button  Extra - Legal Complications - Dr. Gary Joiner, a Civil War historian with LSU-Shreveport, says the ownership of the land the monument sits on is complicated

07/15 - Symbol or Statement? History in Public Spaces

Is the display of Civil War statues in public justified or do they belong only in museums?

After recent racially motivated violence in Charleston, South Carolina, state governments around the South are reevaluating the display of the Confederate battle flag on public grounds. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is calling for input on the removal of Civil War memorials. What should be the role of state and local government in regulating these symbols? Is the display of Civil War statues in public justified or do they belong only in museums?

How does free speech factor into the debate? Louisiana Public Square looks for answers on “Symbol or Statement? History in Public Spaces,” airing Wednesday, July 22nd at 7 p.m. on LPB HD. (Taping Tuesday July 21st.)

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Our Panelists:

We want to know your opinion! Leave your comments in the box below.


The easiest temptations to fall into seems to be to judge past events/ history in light of current norms and standards…history is what it is, study it, learn from it but you cannot change it or erase it…. we should never judge events or actions of 150 or 1050 years ago by the standards or emotions to which we have evolved or the knowledge and experience we have gained in the ensuing years. Education and study offer the best way to temper feelings and emotions on these subjects…I don t know anyone who thinks slavery was a good idea but there are times throughout history where people did…in there time and under the rules of the day its how they lived…The Jewish people have not demanded the take down of all the ancient monuments in Egypt to honor Pharaohs long dead who kept them in bondage for generations…

Posted by Frank Pizzolato  on  07/09  at  11:56 AM

All four of my mother’s great grandfathers were enlisted men in the Army of Northern Virginia—three were at Gettysburg; one died during the war as a prisoner of war at Fort Delaware in Maryland from malnutrition and typhoid. They enlisted at the beginning of war. The three who survived were at with General Lee when he surrendered to General Grant. They returned to Henry County, Georgia and got on with their lives. They did not celebrate the war.

My father had maternal great grandparents who were Southern (North Carolina) abolitionists who survived the Civil. 

I associate the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia with the Klan and with Jim Crow. It does have historic relevance but that relevance lost any positive meaning at least during the sixties if not much earlier. I did graduate work at Southern University and I was arrested with S.C.L.C. but not until the 70s. I saw the “Confederate” flag used to protest the integration of my univerity Georgia during the early 60s.

Posted by Ted Morgan  on  07/09  at  12:49 PM

I didn’t grow up in the South; I feel somewhat impartial. The Confederate flag can be a racist symbol if someone flaunts it defiantly to antagonize others. If I was black, that would bother me, but trying to erase history is a slippery slope and just wrong. Landrieu is a politician like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (a devious, powerful little man), who stated “You never let a serious crisis go to waste… it’s an opportunity to do things… you could not do before” (i.e., the Charleston tragedy).  Landrieu’s self-righteous mission to remove these historic statues is a self-serving way to pander to “angry mob” constituents, who speak for very few of us (black or white). GREAT PUBLICITY, Mr. Landrieu, how noble of you! Taliban leaders destroyed 1700 year old Buddahs to erase history, and the world was angered. I see no difference here. We live in an intolerant age of political correctness—I find that disheartening!  With help from folks like Rahm Emanuel, this Administration has driven an angry wedge between blacks and whites. Never have I seen such a huge chasm—I find that sad (and very destructive).

Posted by David Carnes  on  07/09  at  12:53 PM

While I commend the notion of removing public symbols of hate… it is also imperative to redefine this site as a positive symbol for our future generations.  In the spirit of compromise and progress I offer up this one kernel of an idea which could further the interests of the whole New Orleans community

Posted by Christopher Porche West  on  07/09  at  04:13 PM

I worked in New Orleans for 30 years as an artist(sculptor), i have several pieces of my work scattered around the city and Gulf South, public and private. I have traveled all over the world and feel like my perspective on this issue is relevant.
  The removal of offensive flags is a necessary move. Public art, on the other hand, is something I do not endorse. History is recorded through public art-good and bad. Where does it stop? Andrew Jackson was responsible for “The Trail of Tears” and the killing or removal of countless Native Americans. Should we remove his sculpture as well? I think it would be a mistake to remove these pieces. Perhaps commission more public art commemorating the many great African-Americans who made great contributions to our city, state and nation?
  Perhaps making a Positive Statement out of the tragedy of slavery and the shabby treatment of our black citizens would be a more productive move. Best of luck on this issue.

Posted by Romney Stubbs  on  07/13  at  06:13 PM

Everything you need to know about what the mayor is trying to do in New Orleans can be explained in one quote from a novel called 1984 by George Orwell

Posted by Ryan Izatt  on  07/14  at  11:19 PM

What should be the role of state and local government in regulating these symbols?

The state and local government should be responsible for regulating these symbols.

Is the display of Civil War statues in public justified or do they belong only in museums?

Civil War statues in public is NOT justified and they belong only in museums.

If these symbols and Civil War statues are placed in museums it doesn’t hurt anyone at all.

No United States citizens or visiting foreigners should be forced to see these reminders of a negative history.

If anyone wishes to learn more about these symbols and any Civil War statues, they could easily walk into a museum and learn more about history or their heritage.

How does free speech factor into the debate?

Free speech does not factor into the debate when it comes to federal, state, and local government lands and buildings. These places should always be positive or neutral. This is the UNITED States.

Removing symbols and any Civil War statues from PUBLIC property does not violate anyone’s free speech.

Posted by Wright  on  07/15  at  04:08 PM

They should be in museums, point blank.

Those who support the confederate flag should be free to own and use them on their own property but to display statues and symbols that seriously insult so many is just preposterous.

Posted by Ashley Dresser  on  07/20  at  05:21 PM

If we are not true to the memories of the past, we cannot be true to ourselves and monuments are a debt which posterity owes to history. All historians should agree to that.

Posted by Ryan P.  on  07/21  at  12:17 AM

Erasing history or historical monuments dedicated to the heroes of our land, especially military heroes, is idiocy.

Confederate soldiers and sailors have long had the admiration of everyone in the world who appreciates courage, sacrifice, skill, ingenuity, honor, and a strong sense of defense of one’s freedom.  Once invaded from the north, the large majority of southern men served and sacrificed much in defense of their families, lands, and rights. In addition, most southerners possessed a good understanding that their state seceded from the Union in an effort to perpetuate the principles of the Constitution established by the founding fathers.

We need to keep all monuments dedicated to these men in the prominent places they now rest.

I enjoy visiting New Orleans with its rich Southern history abound. Removing this monument would be nothing less than historical genocide in my opinion.

Posted by Marc Robinson  on  07/21  at  04:48 PM

I beleve that all Veteran Flags, Monuments,
Grave Sights, Statues, name of roads, Schools, ect.
Are in respect of our Ancestors, it History.
It’s is also illegal made by Congress to Deface, Move,
Disturb Graves, Monuments, Flags of Vets from the Indain,
Spanish, Confederate, WW2.
So I’m very against touching any and all Monuments of any Veterans.
The Confederate Flag and its monuments are our History and Heritage.
To do so, is to spit on the people that fought for our freedoms.
Black and White.

Posted by Ni'Cole B. Vincent  on  07/21  at  08:37 PM

We faced the same issues here in Lake Charles. The members of SCV Camp 1390 rallied in strong support of our monument here that was just re dedicated.

Posted by Gregg Holder  on  07/21  at  08:39 PM

General Lee was my Great Great Grandfather on my mothers side.My Great Great grandfather on my fathers side was a corporal in the 18th Louisiana infantry and yellow jacket battalion.There should be No role for State and Local Government in regulation of these symbols.That is up to the People to regulate.The display of Civil War statues in public is justified.We have the right to pay respect to our Confederate heros.They do Not “only” belong in museums.Remember this,the North incringed on our rights to govern ourselves when they invaded the South with forts,armed military and Naval presence.You can’t ignore this fact.Had I been in this state at that time,I would have taken this as an act of aggression and
made preperations for War.

Posted by Gregory Castille  on  07/21  at  10:07 PM

my family has a great history in this country dating to the 1600’s. if we erase history how will our children know what happened and whether or not to make the same mistakes. for example, when the Japanese surrendered, would Douglas McAurther had been able to use his cousin’s flag, at the surrender? most of you have no Idea that they were even related,now that being said, if you erased even a part of that history would children ever make the connection, most never would!
History is history, good, bad indifferent…it must be protected or we will fall to the fate of all of those who’s history was erased

Posted by Jeff Crane  on  07/22  at  12:03 AM

First of all both poor whites and blacks were in the battles for the south. Both compiled to fight for a promise of fairness and land with opportunities to better themselves and family. Others fight in place of rich planter’s sons. They did not then nor do they now disclose the fact that they would never make good those promises as all they wanted was to continue their way of life with the economic strength of free and poor class labor support.
Almost as today with 1% of the population supported by the 99% in the middle and lower classes. The was used as a focal point symbolizing the need to defend that dream of southern aristocratic life!

Posted by Shadri Williams  on  07/22  at  08:09 AM

At what point does it stop. There’s a difference between being offended and being oppressed. Build up our history, not tear it down. If you want to help us stop Mayor Landrieu from destroying your history, join the 21,000 other supported and sign the petition at www.saveourcircle.com

Posted by Tim Shea Carroll  on  07/22  at  06:11 PM

The fact that the removal of these monuments is absolutely obsurd.  These monuments REPRESENT New Orleans…  they are a part of New Orleans….  they are New Orleans.  They have absolutely NOTHING to do with the atrocious act that was committed in South Carolina by complete racist who deserves to be imprisoned or worse.  But his act has NOTHING to do with our monuments. 

Leave our monuments alone!!

Posted by Masson LaGarde  on  07/22  at  07:52 PM

Very powerful!  I was for removing the monuments in public spaces but now would be willing to let them remain only if the other sides of the story are told.  I’m Caucasian & now view anything related to the Confederacy w/disgust.

I wish I could have put forth the following scenario for your panel & audience.  If this was Germany, would we tolerate the Nazi flag or statues of Hitler or Rommel in public or private spaces?

Posted by Philip Waters  on  07/22  at  08:20 PM

Civil War statues should remain exactly where they are, and how they are. Any battle flags should also remain.
They are symbols of the culture and heritage of a large part of Southern Americans. The battle flag needs to be redefined in it’s original, rebel, context rather than as a symbol of racism and hatred. As it was a couple of months ago… a symbol of the Dukes of Hazard… fun loving rebels.
Additional monuments should be erected for the Black Americans and the Cherokees, so their history is also preserved. Thus future generations can see a truer picture of history from a variety of view points.

Posted by Karen Parker  on  07/22  at  08:46 PM

if they take down the flag and the monuments then they need to take the us flag and it monuments to cause the us flag was used for theift and betrayal in this country cause the north invaded the south cause they wanted what we had and if that is treesing then that I am and proud of it cause they going to keep on wanting to take from the south and the south is getting sick of it and there will be another war on the soil that the civil war was fought on but it will be for our rights this time

Posted by david robinson  on  07/22  at  09:51 PM

The violence in this century is deplorable. The African Americas that were killed by white men are top news story. But the African Americas that are killed by each other are NOT newsworthy! Why? NOT a hot enough story to cause the uncivilize to destroy - to riot. The 21 yrs old N.C. white KKK male assisinated African Americans in their historically black church a hate crime. He posted his intend on the WWW-Internet. Why wasn’t he stopped beforehand? The Monuments,Textile and stable people with firearms are NOT the underlying problem. It is NOT okay to openly use a weapon to steal, rape, kill, torture,... people or animals.  According to the families / friends of the career criminal - they get a pass! Our court system fails the general population by turning out the hard crimals as fast as they are caught. Yet they “through away the key on someone caught with a pound of pot - big deal!  Prayer was taken out of schools, the two parent family seem to be extent, television programming is filled with violence. Children have to raise themselves ... Their access to the Internet is evil. So we are to remove the monuments, change street names. Isn’t that erasing history - the same way African American history was once left out of the textbooks. People are close minded trying to erase destroy and hide history if you don’t like what it symbolizes, please go in a different direction or go create your own statue on the opposite corner.  Make your own flag! Seriously why not address a biger problem the abused, homeless, staving right here in Louisiana. The monunets are not the problem!

Posted by Marcel  on  07/22  at  10:42 PM

Hiding history does not make it go away, but not teaching history will cause it to be repeated. Denying heritage is one sure way to have the history you are trying to hide to be repeated.

Posted by Stephen Whitlock  on  07/23  at  06:55 AM

Mitch, get a grip dude. You are the mayor of a once great city and hopefully it will be again soon. It’s been 3-4 years since I’ve lived in the city but when I did I was there for 35 years. If I’m not mistaken, the biggest problem with crime during that time was black on black crime. I doubt very seriously if they were killing each other because of some rebel flag or some statue. Quit acting like those other ##### politicians by jumping on the band wagon. According to your predecessor Mr. Nagin, New Orleans is a Chocolate City. Deal with it. Meditate, stand up straight, THINK, get advice if necessary (I’m hoping that is what this post is about), then do what you think is the right thing to do—not what you think will get you votes like all other loser politicians.

Posted by Bob Hebert  on  07/23  at  10:16 AM

It was mentioned the complexity of the meaning of Confederate flag: To those that endorse it, what does the Confederate flag mean to them?

Posted by Jacqueline Cofield  on  07/23  at  10:18 AM

Slavery was legal under the United States flag for over 80 years. Many of the founding fathers, who appear on our currency, were slaveowners. Can the panel address this?

Posted by Shari Jones  on  07/23  at  10:22 AM
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