Oprah Winfrey for O The Oprah Magazine September 2018

This month, Oprah talks to Mitch Landrieu, the former mayor of New Orleans, about the need for every American to reckon with the country’s complicated past. Landrieu was thrust into the national spotlight when he delivered a powerful speech about the removal of statues around the city that celebrated the Confederacy. During the same speech he addressed the need for Americans to acknowledge the uglier aspects of our history. Oprah talked to Landrieu earlier this summer (Please note: the interview took place before the tragic New Orleans shooting that took place on July 28th 2018) as his time in office came to a close about race, history, where he thinks America should go from here, and more.

On Oprah’s favorite part of any conversation: “My favorite part of any conversation, on air or off, is when someone has a revelatory moment and utters these words: ‘I never thought of it that way before.’”

On Oprah’s life’s work: “Getting people to be open to seeing things differently has been my life’s work.’”

On Landrieu’s willingness to say uncomfortable things: “I wrote the book and the speech because I felt it was important for a white person to say unequivocally something that should be really, really simple: The Confederacy fought to destroy the United States as we knew it and preserve slavery, and it was on the wrong side of humanity. Can’t we admit this is historical fact? We continue to debate that issue. It isn’t debatable.”

On remembering history versus revering it: “There is a difference between remembering history and revering it. I would ask people, ‘Can you point out one other monument in American that reveres a general who lost?’”

On losing two-thirds of Landrieu’s white support after the monuments came down: “Some are furious. To people who say, ‘You ruined the city, I’ll never vote for you again,’ I say, ‘Great, I’m never running for anything again, so we’re good to go.’” (source)

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