The Monumental Task Committee released a statement opposing the removal of the Jefferson Davis Monument. They criticized the process and the city’s lack of concern about other monuments, even ones having nothing to do with the Confederacy.
From their statement:
Another historic monument was removed under the cover of darkness using amateur, masked workers in armor, unmarked vehicles and equipment, and with a heavy law enforcement presence. This time it was of Jefferson Davis, the former President of the Confederacy, but who was also a West Point graduate, a hero of the Mexican-American War, and the Unites States Secretary of War. Mayor Landrieu says the removals are to make “New Orleans more diverse, but Landrieu cannot be inclusive, tolerant, or diverse when he is erasing a very specific and undeniable part of New Orleans’ history,” said Pierre McGraw, President of the Monumental Task Committee. “We urge our citizens to contact the Louisiana Legislature to encourage them to support HB71 to prevent further destruction of memorials to our veterans.”
The Jefferson Davis Monument was one of the Monumental Task Committee’s first projects 29 years ago. The 1911 monument was unkempt, filthy, corroded, just overall in poor shape. At no cost to taxpayers, the MTC cleaned it up, reworked the foundation, and had a big re-dedication with the City Council proclaiming it “Jefferson Davis Day” which included a celebration with City Officials and the Marine Corps band. The neglect back then to today’s removal of a 106-year-old monument originally funded by everyday people just goes to show you that the City of New Orleans cares very little about its historic landscape.
The Monumental Task Committee also outlined a compromise on the monument situation. Their ideas are ones that many of us who love history and art have been pushing for instead of removal of monuments.
Since the Mayor first announced his plans to remove the City’s historic monuments, the Monumental Task Committee has recommended a “3 Point Plan” solution that costs the City nothing and resolves the issue.
1- Everyone should practice tolerance and respect of ALL of New Orleans monuments.
2- Install interpretive plaques to put an old monument in a more current context at no cost to the City.
3- Build new monuments. The MTC has identified numerous locations that would be suitable for new monuments throughout the City. A detailed map of these sites is on the website at www.monumentaltask.org.
Instead of removing history, we should be adding to it.