MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center launched its 2021 Confederate Billboard campaign in Florence, Alabama. In 2017, local advocacy group Project Say Something initially appealed for contextualization of the monument that sits in front of the Lauderdale County courthouse. After city and county officials refused to cooperate, the group began advocating for the monument’s removal and relocation last year.
The following statement is from SPLC Chief of Staff Lecia Brooks:
“The SPLC has always supported community efforts to determine what they want to see in their public spaces. It is fitting that our first billboard went up in Florence, Alabama today to help support Project Say Something’s ongoing efforts to remove this symbol of white supremacy from the Lauderdale County courthouse.
“There’s a reason these oppressive symbols were placed on the grounds of county courthouses in small towns like Florence, occurring during two distinct periods in which the number of new Confederate memorials and other symbols spiked. The Lauderdale monument was placed during the first spike in 1903, as Southern states rewrote their constitutions and enacted Jim Crow laws to disenfranchise Black citizens, legalize racial oppression, and reverse the political gains made by the Black community during the Reconstruction era. This sentiment was reflected in the racist speech given during the dedication ceremony for the Lauderdale monument.
“Given the outright hostility, opposition, harassment, and threats that Project Say Something has endured from counter protestors and on social media, we wanted to help uplift their advocacy efforts and show our support.
“As long as Confederate iconography continues to exist in public spaces, the legitimacy of the racial hierarchy, white superiority and Black inferiority is reinforced.”
For more information about Project Say Something’s advocacy efforts, please contact Camille at email@example.com.
Twelve Confederate symbols were removed from Alabama’s public spaces in 2020.