by Yvette Carnell
To many white Southerners, the Confederate flag is about honoring their ancestors. Yes, those ancestors fought for the right to build an empire of affluence on a pyre of black bodies, but that kinship means something to Southerners who take pride in ‘heritage’, no matter how shaming.
Ever since the Charleston massacre at AME was somehow conflated into a debate over the Confederate flag, a cadre of Southerners have rallied around their symbol. We’ve seen skirmishes, rallies, and even learned that “flag runs” are an actual thing.
What we hadn’t seen, at least until now, is backlash. It seems that residents of St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana are taking aim at the crowning glorify of African-American idols: Martin Luther King Jr.
White Crowd Bursts into Applause as City Council Refuses to Rename Street Martin Luther King Jr. BlvdClick to tweet
At a St. Bernard Parish Council meeting Tuesday, the council voted unanimously against renaming Colonial Blvd. to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. After the vote, the audience, which was mostly opposed to the measure, burst into applause.
What did opposition to the vote boil down to? Basically, my history is more important than your history. From NOLA.com:
White opponents tried to sidestep the proposal’s racial significance, painting their opposition as an attempt to preserve the name of a historic street that was named after its one-time Spanish colonizers.
Rachel Bazile of eastern St. Bernard received the one standing ovation from the audience after she discussed the importance of remembering St. Bernard’s Spanish heritage and saying that keeping Colonial Boulevard was “not a racial issue.”
“History lost leads to history repeated,” she said, concluding with “God bless America!”
Understand me: Black people in Louisiana can’t even get a half mile of road named after a non-violent integrationist civil rights leader. That’s where we are. St. Bernard has its own racist history, but one has to wonder whether the symbolic attack on the Confederate flag has made white communities even more resistant to this sort of public historical integration. One question: Was it worth it?