National conversations about Confederate monuments on government grounds and athletes kneeling to protest racial injustice intersected in Shreveport, Louisiana, last fall. The New York Times explores how that moment impacted one Black family in “Taking a Knee and Taking Down a Monument,” an 11-minute documentary published yesterday (January 9).
The documentary focuses on LaPeachra Bell and her teenage son, Anthony Bell Jr. Anthony plays football at Green Oaks High School, where his team made local news for its plan to kneel before a game in late September. The students endured racist vitriol for the planned action, which was ultimately canceled after the district superintendent said that participating players could face punishment.
“We were called the n-word, monkeys, some of everything,” said Terrance Isaac, Bell’s coach, who initially approved the protest. “It was unfair. Racism still exists, and it showed this week.”
One scene features the teenager and his mother discussing how Isaac, who is Black, called off the protest to protect the students from further abuse and death threats. The next scene shows LaPeachra Bell testifying before the Caddo Parish Commission, the equivalent to a city council for Shreveport and surrounding towns, about a monument to Confederate soldiers outside the Caddo Parish Courthouse. The commission held a public comment period before voting 7-5 to remove the statue in October, just weeks after Anthony Bell Jr.’s attempted protest.
“When you got a monument that is so biased and so racist, it’s basically letting our youth know, in so many ways, that nobody really cares,” Bell testified. “A lot of people are saying, ‘put it in a museum,’ but I say crumble it up, make keepsakes out of it and hand it out to all of the people who still want it around.”
Local station KSLA News 12 reports that the monument still stands while a federal judge examines a lawsuit filed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a neo-Confederate group that claims to own the land beneath the statue.
Watch the full video above.