More than 150 years after the Civil War, there is a new drive to remove Confederate monuments. In April and May 2017, the New Orleans City Council voted to remove four Confederate monuments from their city. This decision came on the heels of other cities such as Austin, TX and Louisville, KY, who also voted to remove their statues; additional cities are also considering removing them. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu championed the effort to take down the four Confederate monuments, stating, “It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America; they fought against it. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.”
The latest national push for the removal of Confederate monuments and names began in 2015 after Dylann Roof, who idolized the Confederate flag, killed nine African-American worshippers at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. Racial justice activists have been working for decades on the removal of Confederate monuments and other related symbols. Taking down these monuments has come with significant opposition including pushback, threats against work crews and in some cases, protest and demonstrations.
This lesson provides an opportunity for students to learn more about Confederate monuments and the recent push to remove them, through the lens of what recently took place in New Orleans. It encourages them to reflect on their own points of view about the issue while exploring others’ positions, and to create sketches of monuments to replace the Confederate monuments or to memorialize a significant person or event in history.