How a change in power left Lafayette’s Mouton statue untouchable for 40 years

Lafayette Parish

Mayor Kenny Bowen proclaims Margaret McMillan Day in Lafayette, 1976 (The Daily Advertiser Archives)

LAFAYETTE, La (The Daily Advertiser) — Forty years ago, an incoming Lafayette mayor and a local Confederate history group quietly agreed to a plan that would ultimately make the city’s statue of Confederate Gen. Alfred Mouton untouchable for decades. 

In April of 1980, outgoing-Mayor Kenny Bowen, who had recently lost his re-election bid to Dud Lastrapes, was planning to move the Mouton statue from its place in front of the old City Hall downtown to the new City Hall on University Avenue. 

But Lafayette’s United Daughters of the Confederacy chapter, which donated the statue to the city in 1922 during a Jim Crow-era resurgence in white supremacy across the South, was searching for a way to derail Bowen’s plan.

The statue’s downtown location was poignant to the UDC since it stands on land once owned by Alfred Mouton’s father, Alexandre Mouton, who helped establish early Lafayette and served as the state’s first Democratic governor before leading Louisiana’s efforts to secede prior to the Civil War. 

The Daughters lobbied the city’s council members and spoke against moving the statue publicly at the time, but even opposition from some council members could not sway Bowen from going ahead with the move. 

Instead, the Daughters formed a plan to delay the move until Lastrapes could take office three weeks later, after he “assured (them) that he will cancel the order and the matter will be closed as far the city is concerned,” according to a report written by UDC chapter Chairman Betty Dugal on May 17, 1980, days after they got a court order to delay the move by 10 days. 

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