On Monday, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) released a report about the state of Confederate monuments across the United States. Since the horrific white supremacist shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., 110 monuments, symbols, and names have been changed or removed.
“The survey identified 110 Confederate symbols removed since the Charleston massacre, including 47 monuments and four flags, and name changes for 37 schools, seven parks, three buildings and seven roads,” the SPLC reported. “Among them was the Confederate battle flag that had flown at the South Carolina State House grounds in Columbia for 54 years.”
Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have carried out removals, renamings, and other alterations of Confederate symbols. According to the SPLC, Texas (31), Virginia (14), Florida (9), and Tennessee (8) removed the most monuments, followed by Georgia (6), Maryland (6), North Carolina (5), and Oklahoma (5). Eighty-two of the 110 removals took place in former Confederate states.
“Some removals were highly contentious, like in New Orleans, where the city in 2017 removed three prominent statues honoring Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and P.G.T. Beauregard,” the SPLC added. New Orleans also removed a monument commemorating the Battle of Liberty Place that once extolled the virtues of “white supremacy” by name.
The SPLC identified 1,728 publicly sponsored symbols honoring Confederate leaders, soldiers, or the Confederate States of America in general. “These include monuments and statues; flags; holidays and other observances; and the names of schools, highways, parks, bridges, counties, cities, lakes, dams, roads, military bases and other public works. Many of these are prominent displays in major cities and at state capitols; others, like the Stonewall Jackson Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department in Manassas, Virginia, are little known.”
The SPLC caused a stir last year by releasing a map of all standing Confederate monuments after violent protests had erupted. The map included (and still includes) elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools, marking these locations for protest and condemning them as carrying the “potential to unleash more turmoil and bloodshed.” The organization’s infamous “hate group” labeling inspired a terrorist attack in 2012, after a radical LGBT activist found the Family Research Council on its “hate map.”
The SPLC also misidentified an elementary school in Kentucky that was named after a stone wall, marking it for protest on the false assumption it was named after Stonewall Jackson.
The SPLC report also attacked President Donald Trump for siding “with those who want to continue honoring the Confederacy, calling the removal of ‘beautiful’ monuments ‘foolish’ and tweeting that it is ‘[s]ad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart.'”
While Trump has opposed the excising of American history, it is arguably too much to say he would want to “continue honoring the Confederacy.” In pushing to keep the monuments, he warned that the movement to erase American history would not stop with the Confederacy, but proceed onward to involve cries for the removal of statues honoring founders like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Indeed, activists have called for Jefferson statues to be removed.