In the Shadow of Statues
Mitch Landrieu, In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History, (New York: Viking), 2018.
"There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence for it," Mitch Landrieu said when he addressed the people of New Orleans in May 2017 about his decision to take down four Confederate monuments. the action took a lot of courage even for a seasoned politician and the son of a courageous politician. His actions and decisions were easily as controversial as had been his father's in the early days of integration. The book is a powerful testament to the courage of leaders in a time when our national leaders are not demonstrating much courage at all. Furthermore it is a needed correction to history. To assume that the lost cause memorials are accurate remembrances of history rather than to identify them for what they are - attempts to redefine history and tell a false story - is to exhibit a subtle form of racism that cripples communities and perpetuates a culture of violence and injustice.
Landrieu spells out the painful legacy of the Civil War and reminds us that some of the most important struggles and disagreements of that time remain unresolved. The monuments we place in public parks and other venues can perpetuate a misplaced nostalgia for a time and place that never existed. Landrieu dares to tell the truth about the south - its history and its present - as he spells out a powerful memoir of the trials and difficulties of leadership.
We live in a deeply divided nation. Perpetuating falsehoods deepens the divide rather than bringing about the healing that is necessary for us to together forge a future.