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Correcting Revisionist History: SPLC challenges more than 100 U.S. schools honoring Confederate leaders to change their names

In an update of its index of Confederate iconography displayed in public spaces across the country, the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified an additional 100 schools named for Confederate leaders, bringing the total to more than 300.

A complete list of the schools can be read here

The majority of the new additions are in the South. At least 80 were named after a county or town that honors a Confederate leader. 

“School districts that continue supporting the Confederacy must reexamine the message being conveyed to students, staff and the communities they serve who are directly affected by the pain and oppression these names and images represent,” said SPLC Chief of Staff Lecia Brooks.

Of the more than 300 schools identified in the SPLC database, 85 have closed or been renamed. An additional 21 have committed to changing their names but have not yet done so. 

That leaves 198 schools listed in the database as “live.” The states with the most “live” schools are Georgia (45), Texas (40) and Alabama (22). 

“Today, we once again call on the 21 schools that committed to changing their names within the last year to do what they said they were going to do,” Brooks said. “We also call on the other 198 schools that still bear the names of Confederates to put the needs of students and communities first by renaming their schools after someone all Americans can be proud of. Removing namesakes that celebrate a revisionist Confederate past does not erase history, it corrects it.”

The SPLC began cataloguing Confederate memorials and other symbols following the murders of nine Black people during the June 17, 2015, attack on the “Mother Emanuel” A.M.E. church in Charleston, S.C., by a white supremacist who had posted photos of himself with a Confederate flag.

To learn more about the history of Confederate symbols and the ongoing data collection efforts, visit the SPLC’s Whose Heritage? report.

Brooks noted that the school data does not include “imagery glorifying the Confederacy located on and around school property in the form of monuments, statues, plaques, markers and street names.

“Nor does it include a curriculum that instills the false, revisionist history that the Civil War was fought for anything other than preserving chattel slavery and ensuring that Black people remain uneducated. Simply put, this is unacceptable.

“There is a real difference between acknowledging factual, historical events and promoting the false Lost Cause narrative.”

The SPLC briefed the media this week on its efforts to rename schools that honor Confederate figures. To watch the video, click here.

Photo at top: A pedestal that held a statue of Robert E. Lee stands empty outside a high school named for the Confederate general in Montgomery, Alabama, on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. The Montgomery County Board of Education has voted to change the name of the high school and two others that are also named for Confederate figures. (AP Photo/Kim Chandler)