It’s easy to understand why Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart really digs New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Despite whatever political muck Landrieu’s had to step in to climb out of the cesspool of Louisiana politics, he has impressed everyone as a wise, decent and principled man when it comes to dealing with race and black-white relations.

Capehart praised Landrieu for pushing his predominantly black city to remove four monuments to Confederate generals, which Capehart said were symbols of murder and slavery and Landrieu said were erected not to honor war heroes but to intimidate blacks and remind them that white people were still in control of their lives.

Goodbye general.

In 2017, AD, a city government displaying monuments to the defenders of the slave states obviously isn’t politically correct. It’s not morally correct, either.

The true meaning of those monuments to the heroes of the Confederacy has been known to black people in the South for a long time.

For example, it is expressed by John Wesley Dobbs, one of the many superstars (black and white) who appear in “30 Days a Black Man.” Dobbs — the grandfather of Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson Jr. — was a heroic and energetic black civil rights pioneer and social leader in Atlanta in the 1930s – 1950s.

Atlanta civil rights leader John Wesley Dobbs, center, at the 1948 Republican convention.

He knew the great power of statues and symbols — good and bad ones — and took great pains to educate his six daughters, all future Spelman College grads.
From my book:

Each daughter received heavy doses of their father’s love of America and its history and his moral contempt for slavery and segregation. When he took them to New York City to see the Statue of Liberty, he made them climb the stairs to the top so they’d never forget that day. For the same reason he made them actually touch Plymouth Rock. On family trips north, he constantly pointed out to them that blacks there were much more free than they were under Jim Crow. When he drove his daughters into the Georgia countryside in one of his nice cars, he’d stop at the statues of Confederate soldiers in the centers of small towns. He’d remind his girls what the statues really memorialized: “the diabolical system of human slavery” and white power over the lives of blacks. 

My book is about the Jim Crow South and the North, both of which were rigidly segregated in 1948. But many of the black/white issues in it — including crime, murder, policing, schools and the lingering effects of a couple centuries of racism practiced by white governments, white political parties and white people — are echoed in the headlines of today.

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