Rashauna Johnson (interviewed by the Chronicle) discusses history, slavery, and her new book Slavery’s Metropolis:
“In the aftermath of Charlottesville’s violent white-supremacist rally, Americans are waging a renewed culture war over Confederate monuments. But a more complicated question lurks beneath the upheaval over what to do with these statues, one that will linger once the TV cameras have moved on. After a community takes down Confederate relics, how should citizens and scholars remember and memorialize the slave system those rebels fought to preserve?
“New Orleans exemplifies that dilemma. The city’s mayor, Mitch Landrieu, won national attention in May for a speech that dismantled the bogus Civil War history enshrined in Confederate monuments. But in defending his city’s removal of those statues, Landrieu also demanded that New Orleanians reckon with their city’s history of bondage. “New Orleans was one of America’s largest slave markets: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were bought, sold, and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor, of misery, of rape, and of torture,” he said. The lack of monuments to that past amounted to “historical malfeasance, a lie by omission…”