Thursday, July 5, 2018

the last book I ever read (In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History by Mitch Landrieu, except one)

from In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History by Mitch Landrieu:

New Orleans mirrors a map of the world, a city where people of many countries have settled, shaping a beloved culture that has been enriched with jazz, Creole and Cajun cuisine, and so much more. We’ve shared culture across racial lines, but we also have played a seminal role in some of the saddest chapters in American history. More humans were sold into slavery in New Orleans than anywhere else in the country. Hundreds of thousands of souls were sold here, then shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor, of misery, of rape, of torture. As we entertain visitors from around the world along our beautiful riverfront, it is hard to fathom that at this very spot, ships emptied their human cargo from Senegal, marching their captives down the street to what is now one of our famous hotels, but there are no historical markers on that path. No monuments or flags to the lives destroyed.

New Orleans is where black Creoles launched a legal challenge to segregated public transportation, a case that led to the 1896 Supreme Court decision Plessy v Ferguson, which enshrined Jim Crow’s “separate but equal” into law. In 1892 a mixed-race man named Homer Plessy attempted to board a whites-only car but was arrested because he was one-eighth black. Sixty years later, Freedom Riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp. Today, though, even as white identity politics rage, I take comfort that my city understands that diversity is our strength, greeting visitors with warmth and a cultural effervescence, even as we resolve to work hard to evolve and heal. We all have so far to go.

No comments:

Post a Comment