I have followed with great interest your coverage of the debate over Confederate symbols, and when I read about Mayor Landrieu’s call to rename Jefferson Davis Parkway after Dr. Norman Francis, I thought about the front page of a recent Advocate.

In the center, you published a photo of the Jefferson Davis statue holding a peace symbol — truly striking imagery as our community addresses the symbols made for our past and decides the future we will make for ourselves.

Beneath that picture, another photo foretold what’s possible for New Orleans as one of the world’s truly great cities. Local businessman Robbie Vitrano toasted his new venture with Gordon Stewart, a successful entrepreneur from Scotland. Bootleg Spirits represents our inclusive culture and economy: a hometown hero, whose companies have created jobs all around the world, collaborating on a multimillion-dollar project with an innovator from overseas who fell in love with New Orleans.

These two photos juxtaposed future job creation against a monument that exalts the president of the Confederacy with a plaque that reads: “His name is enshrined in the hearts of the people for whom he suffered and his deeds are forever welded to immortality. A majestic orator; in character firm; in judgment sound, in purpose resolute.”

Jefferson Davis’ resolute purpose was to defend the evils of slavery. His deeds are forever welded to immorality. And we now must address this reality: That kind of “sound judgment” just doesn’t make sense for the future of New Orleans.

That’s even clearer when compared with the reasons President George W. Bush awarded Dr. Norman Francis the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Dr. Francis is a native son who has dedicated his life to inclusivity, educating countless future leaders and fighting tirelessly on behalf of a more prosperous city for all.

President Bush praised him as “a man of deep intellect and compassion and character.” Those ideals absolutely represent our city at its best.

Our monuments send messages to the world about our values, and the success of our city’s burgeoning economy depends on our inclusivity. That is what Alabama’s governor knew when he recently ordered the removal of Confederate flags from their state capitol grounds, where Jefferson Davis was sworn in as president of the Confederacy in 1861.

The next day, he went upstate to announce that Google would build a $600 million data center powered completely by renewable energy. He told an interviewer: “We have so many premier automobile and aerospace industries in the state, and I want this progress to continue. I don’t want anything to be a distraction to my ability to recruit jobs.”

Then, he added: “A flag is not worth a job.”

That said it all.

Rob Lalka

partner, Medora Ventures

New Orleans