Mass protests this year against the murders of Black people by police and vigilantes have fostered a widespread commitment to eradicating systemic racism and have further invigorated the fight to remove Confederate iconography from public spaces.
Since George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, more than 100 Confederate symbols across the U.S. have been taken down.
“Confederate symbols revere a secessionist army that fought to preserve the institutions of slavery and white supremacy,” said SPLC Chief of Staff Lecia Brooks. “They are painful monuments to anti-Black racism that have no place in public spaces. The removal of these symbols sends a powerful message: For our nation to heal, we cannot tolerate Confederate symbols that honor and mythologize a cruel, hateful past.”
In 2015, the murder of nine Black worshipers at an AME church by a white supremacist sparked a nationwide movement to remove Confederate monuments, flags and other symbols from public spaces. In response, the SPLC created Whose Heritage?, a project dedicated to creating a comprehensive database of Confederate symbols on public lands. For the past four years, Whose Heritage? has tracked the removal and relocation of these Confederate symbols, and the data shows we’re making strong progress. But, despite the fastest pace of removal we’ve seen yet, nearly 1,800 remain at courthouses, schools, parks, roads and other public spaces.
What can you do today to help remove Confederate symbols?
With almost 1,800 public Confederate symbols still standing, will you commit to researching symbols around you? Across the country, citizen-driven campaigns have risen from the ground up to remove symbols that distort and lionize the shameful history of the Confederacy. Our Confederate symbols map can help you find out if there are any in your community. The Whose Heritage? Action Guide provides information about the next steps you can take after identifying a symbol you want to see removed.
Here are the first steps:
- Research the symbol. Use public records and newspaper reports to get more information about the origin and the motivation behind it.
- Map the path to change. Find out what governmental body is responsible for overseeing or maintaining the display and identify the process for removal.
- Organize and raise awareness. Demonstrating public support for removing the symbol can help you persuade policymakers or officials to work towards removing it.
Check out our Action Guide for detailed tips and information about the entire removal process, from start to finish. If you know of a Confederate symbol in your area that is not listed in Whose Heritage? or would like to share an update on a symbol’s removal or relocation, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about the 100+ symbols that have been removed from public spaces across the U.S. here.
Photo by Getty Images/Tasos Katopodis