NEW ORLEANS — As Confederate-era monuments came down in New Orleans two summers ago, there was hope the next statues to occupy those public spaces would unite, rather than divide the people who live in the city.
Leah Chase is the latest name floated to replace Robert E. Lee at Lee Circle.
“There’s no one who represents the beauty of New Orleans and its hospitality community and its diversity and what a special place the town is, other than Mrs. Leah Chase,” Southern Food & Beverage Museum CEO Brent Rosen said.
The city lost a revered chef, civil rights icon and patron of the arts when Mrs. Chase died June 1. The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is now collecting signatures on a petition to rename Lee Circle, Leah’s Circle.
“Why not take this idea and put our weight behind it and see if we could really make something happen,” Rosen said.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell said the idea has not yet reached her desk.
There appears to be no set plan for the circle at this point and the process the city will use to decide the future of the monument sites is also unclear.
“I see that as being a public process and not centered around one individual, but something collectively builds trust, builds momentum, builds love amongst the residents of the city and business owners alike,” Cantrell said.
Mayor Cantrell added it’s something the city council will ultimately decide.
Over the past two years, people have suggested renaming Lee Circle after the late great New Orleans musicians Allen Toussaint and Fats Domino.
There is also a push to call it Victory Circle, a plaza honoring the U.S. military.
Back at the museum, supporters maintain “Leah’s Circle” has a nice ring to it.
“We will have 10,000 signatures on our petition by the end of the day, today,” Rosen said. “What better way to celebrate her and her legacy “
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