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Workers ready a Robert E. Lee statue for removal

Construction crews prepare a monument of Robert E. Lee, who was a general in the Confederate Army, for removal in New Orleans, La., on May 19, 2017. (Photo: Jonathan Bachman/Reuters)

The fall of the Confederacy

They were among the city’s oldest landmarks, as cemented to the landscape of New Orleans as the Superdome and St. Louis Cathedral: a stone obelisk heralding white supremacy and three statues of Confederate stalwarts.

But after decades standing sentinel over this Southern city, the Confederate monuments are gone, amid a controversy that at times harked back to the divisiveness of the Civil War they commemorated.

The last of the monuments — a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee defiantly facing north with his arms crossed — was lifted by a crane from its pedestal late Friday, May 19, 2017. As air was seen between Lee’s statue and the pedestal below it, a cheer went up from the crowd who recorded history with their phones and shook hands with one another in congratulations. Many in the crowd had waited since morning.

“I never thought I would see this day!” shouted Melanie Morel-Ensminger with joy. “But look! It’s happening.”

Lee’s was the last of four monuments to Confederate-era figures to be removed under a 2015 City Council vote on a proposal by Mayor Mitch Landrieu. It caps a nearly two-year-long process that has been railed against by those who feel the monuments are a part of Southern heritage and honor the dead. But removal of the monuments has drawn praise from those who saw them as brutal reminders of slavery and symbols of the historic oppression of black people. (AP)

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