NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A traffic circle in New Orleans that once hosted a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee would get a new name under an ordinance introduced to the City Council on Thursday.
City Council member Lesli Harris’ ordinance is the first formal effort to rename Lee Circle to Harmony Circle. Lee’s statue was removed from its pedestal in the traffic circle in May 2017. Since then, the street circling the pedestal still bears Lee’s name despite years of debate over what it should be called instead.
“Renaming Lee Circle is a critical step to honoring values that truly matter to our city, rather than glorifying racist figures of the past,” Harris said in a statement. “The word harmony reflects the city of New Orleans, where we all join together to make our community whole, unique, and joyful.”
Harmony Circle was considered and rejected by a street renaming commission last year. Still, Harris’ proposal drew support from a vice-chair of the street renaming commission, Mark Raymond Jr.
“Harmony Circle gives us the opportunity to unite our people rather than divide them and will be a beacon of light for future generations,” Raymond said in a statement.
Another supporter is state Rep. Royce Duplessis.
“Harmony is emblematic of New Orleans, as we celebrate blending our diversity together as a strength,” he said.
If the ordinance is approved, it would be the second time this year the council has taken Lee’s name off a city street. In January, the previous council voted to rename Robert E. Lee Boulevard to Allen Toussaint Boulevard in honor of the rhythm and blues musician.
The City Council has not yet scheduled a hearing on the ordinance or vote.
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