WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced the members of a new Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names, which will “identify geographic names and federal land unit names that are considered derogatory and solicit proposals on replacement names.”
The following statement is from Southern Poverty Law Center Chief of Staff and Culture Lecia Brooks:
“We are thrilled with Secretary Deb Haaland’s announcement and her efforts to remove hateful names from public space. Our Whose Heritage? project contributes to this effort by mapping and tracking data on Confederate monuments and memorials — including some on federal land. We hope the tribal leaders, scholars, and activists on the Committee will use our important resources. This includes our map and database, as they advance the Secretary’s goals of equity and inclusion.
“The time to act is now. Like the Department of Defense’s Naming Commission, this is an important step in the right direction. Just as no person of color should have to serve on a military base named after a Confederate, no one should have to visit a national park whose name is rooted in legacies of hate and white supremacy.
“The fact that more than 600 geographic features identified earlier this year include the S-word signals how much work still must be done. And this underlines why democratic participation is absolutely necessary when it comes to eradicating hateful, racist legacies. We also encourage the general public to make their voices heard in this process. We all have a responsibility to advocate for more equitable, fair, and just public spaces.
“Changing names is only the first step. In order to truly grapple with our shared histories of genocide, slavery, and racism, we must address structural inequality. We hope that our federal, state, and local governments do not stop at just changing the names. Instead, we challenge them to create policies that promote racial justice and community healing — reflecting the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
In February 2022 the SPLC released the third edition of its Whose Heritage? report, data, and map, which tracks public symbols of the Confederacy across the United States. The report shows that more than 2,000 Confederate memorials are still publicly present in the U.S. and over 700 of those are monuments.