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“Confederate Domination” Plaque on a Lamp Post at N. Rampart and Bienville

August 19th, 2010

Today was a good day full of productivity and pep talks and copy machines. After a long day in the new office–it’s beautiful–I headed down to the Quarter for a quick burrito before riding to Mid-City for a bicycle meeting. It felt good to get to pedal some distance today. Man, I really missed my bicycle. I was stopped on the neutral ground waiting for a green light to cross N. Rampart on Bienville when I noticed the plaque on the lamp post. Now, I’ve ridden up and down this street a gazillion times, but lamp posts aren’t necessarily something I’m going to stop and notice. I need the light, not the post. I popped the Surly up on the curb to get a closer look. It reads “The Confederate States of America, February 1862, Deo Vindice (‘With God Our Vindicator’).” Below that reads “CONFEDERATE DOMINATION/1861-1865.” Underneath that is the Seal of the City of New Orleans. Whoa. That’s some seriously political public works! I rode on to the gelato place where R. was celebrating her birthday (I am so glad she was born!) and was chatting about it with A. We agreed that it’s kind of crazy how much, if you look a little bit, this city is still celebrating the Confederacy. Jeff Davis Parkway? General Beauregard statue (apparently sponsored by community fundraising)? I’ve been noticing a lot of this stuff lately. And now this. Now, you could easily live in New Orleans for a really long time and never notice this particular decorative detail. But then you do. And then you do a little research, and you realize lamp posts have a varied history, the site of oral traditions where stories were exchanged and politics were made, and also where people who were lynched were hung. Lamp posts only seem neutral insofar as they fade into the background. But they’ve got a history, like everything. We best be paying attention to what we’re supposed to just go ahead and take for granted.

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