Today I learned that there are, literally, over a thousand Confederate symbols on public land all over America. In recent years, calls have grown for these glorified participation trophies to be removed, calls that have only grown louder in the wake of George Floyd’s death earlier this summer.
According to CBS News, an update to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Whose Heritage?” report, has shown that over 59 Confederate symbols have been renamed, relocated, or outright removed in the nearly three months since Floyd was killed. This includes 38 monuments, a Confederate flag emblem on police uniforms in a South Dakota town, and even the state flag of Mississippi being changed to remove Confederate iconography. Five Confederate monuments have been relocated and multiple parks, schools, and roads have been renamed.
In late May, Floyd was killed after former Officer Derek Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes. Video of the incident went viral and spurred ongoing nationwide protests and intensified efforts to have Confederate monuments removed from public areas.
The SPLC started the report following the 2015 shooting at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, N.C. Nine Black people were killed by a white nationalist as a result of that tragedy. According to the SPLC, that event “sparked a nationwide movement to remove Confederate monuments, flags and other symbols from the public square, and to rename schools, parks, roads and other public works that pay homage to the Confederacy.” The SPLC reports that over the last five years, 125 Confederate symbols have been removed and 103 monuments have been either removed or relocated from public spaces.
This all still feels discouraging when you see the numbers. It’s cool some places are making progress but there are still, literally, hundreds of Confederate monuments standing across the country. It’s rather concerning that it takes the unnecessary death of a Black person for any action to be taken in removing them.