Semester of Graduation
Master of Arts in Liberal Arts (MALA)
The Civil War was one of the most defining acts of war in American History. The Union and the Confederacy battled over the future of African born slaves. The Confederacy wanted to see the African born slaves in chains forever. However, the Union possessed the desire to allow the African slave a proper place in their society. LSU played a major part in the civil war on behalf of the confederacy. LSU’s staff, faculty, and students fought in the war for Baton Rouge and lost to the Union. Hence, the spirit of confederacy was embedded in Baton Rouge culture regardless of the war defeat.
The spirit of confederacy provided local Baton Rouge Real Estate developers a marketing strategy to build confederate-themed neighborhoods. The intent behind the confederate-themed development concept was to increase racial segregation. Unbeknownst to the developers, the desire to have adequate housing trumped racism for middle class African Americans. My mother Alice Toombs was one of the first residents to live in the neighborhood of Hermitage. Hermitage was a fort for Andrew Jackson and a major contributor to the confederacy.
My life has been affected by the confederacy as have others that look like me. It is my desire to utilize my Liberal Arts education to unravel the mindset behind the confederate-named neighborhoods in Baton Rouge. Patterns in history support the notion that the confederate values of the civil war are popular in Baton Rouge. The East Baton Rouge Parish Street Naming Committee conducted research that breaks down the confederate themed neighborhoods in Baton Rouge. The goal of my work is to highlight the need to rename the confederate themed neighborhoods to increase unity and develop progress in a socially damaged Baton Rouge.
Currently, the celebration of the confederacy stifles the potential for racial advancement and diverse economic development. Baton Rouge is a unique city with a lot of pride and love. However, Baton Rouge is also a city that is still very segregated and territorial. South Baton Rouge is loyal to Louisiana State University and North Baton Rouge is loyal to Southern University. In 2022, the racial tension in Baton Rouge is still an issue. Renaming confederate themed neighborhoods can ease the tension by encouraging social conversation about new forms of progressive racial actions.
Herb Turner believed by creating a neighborhood with a confederate theme, LSU faithful would flock to his real estate development. Instead, he underestimated the middle class African American desire to live in descent living quarters. Mr. Turner built homes that were affordable and desirable with great amenities. I’m sure Mr. Turner could not foresee his beloved Hermitage becoming a majority black neighborhood. I have lived in Hermitage for over 30 years and now I see the unbelievable irony that exists today. The intent of Mr. Turner to keep black people out of his neighborhood development has backfired tremendously. Hermitage and all of its rhetoric is now outdated and not relevant. The confederacy lost the civil war and its unjust heroes are traitors. The name of Hermitage should reflect the new residents and their culture.
Toombs, Christopher, "CONFEDERATELY WRONG: THE NAMES OF HERMITAGE NEIGHBORHOOD IT SHOULD BE CHANGED" (2022). LSU Master's Theses. 5506.