Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s Gallier Hall address, 19 May 2017
Immediately before New Orleans removed a statue of Robert E Lee – the fourth Confederate monument to be removed in recent weeks – Mayor Mitch Landrieu gave a remarkable speech, one that will have, I hope, a major impact on the US going forward. And, presages what I expect will be a national presence for Mayor Landrieu in the future.
Thank you for coming.
The soul of our beloved City is deeply rooted in a history that has evolved over thousands of years; rooted in a diverse people who have been here together every step of the way – for both good and for ill.
It is a history that holds in its heart the stories of Native Americans: the Choctaw, Houma Nation, the Chitimacha. Of Hernando de Soto, Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the Acadians, the Islenos, the enslaved people from Senegambia, Free People of Color, the Haitians, the Germans, both the empires of Francexii and Spain. The Italians, the Irish, the Cubans, the south and central Americans, the Vietnamese and so many more.
You see: New Orleans is truly a city of many nations, a melting pot, a bubbling cauldron of many cultures.
There is no other place quite like it in the world that so eloquently exemplifies the uniquely American motto: e pluribus unum — out of many we are one.
But there are also other truths about our city that we must confront. New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were brought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor of misery of rape, of torture.
America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ‘separate but equal’; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp.
So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.
And it immediately begs the questions: why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame … all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans.
So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission.
There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it. 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.
As President George W. Bush said at the dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.”
So today I want to speak about why we chose to remove these four monuments to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, but also how and why this process can move us towards healing and understanding of each other.
Want to try making a Muffaletta Sandwich; my version is halal.
Olive Salad- Version 1 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, sliced ½ cup carrots, shredded ½ cup celery ribs, shredded ½ cup green olives, pitted and finely chopped ½ cup roasted red peppers, finely chopped ½ cup pickled tuscon peperoncino, finely chopped ½ cup kalamata olives, pitted ½ cup cocktail onions ¼ cup tiny capers, in brine, drained 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 3 anchovy fillets, chopped 2 teaspoons dried oregano ¼ teaspoon peperoncino
Olive Salad-Version 2 1 container giardiniera, drained and chopped (16-ounce) 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, sliced ½ cup green olives, pitted and finely chopped ½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped ¼ cup tiny capers, in brine, drained 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 3 anchovy fillets, chopped 2 teaspoons dried oregano ¼ teaspoon peperoncino
For the Muffaletta 1 loaf Muffaletta bread, (8-inch round), split open 2 ounce provolone, sliced 2 ounces beef salami, sliced 2 ounces low-moisture mozzarella, sliced 2 ounces of spicy turkey slices