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More than monuments: A look at America’s Confederate symbols

From bridges and roads to parks and military bases, symbols of the Confederacy permeate many parts of American life


 
Protesters hold a sign during a rally to take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Tuesday, June 23, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. For years, South Carolina lawmakers refused to revisit the Confederate flag on Statehouse grounds, saying the law that took it off the dome was a bipartisan compromise, and renewing the debate would unnecessarily expose divisive wounds. The shooting deaths of nine people at a black church in Charleston, S.C., have reignited calls for the Confederate flag flying on the grounds of the Statehouse in Columbia to come down. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

Protesters hold a sign during a rally to take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Tuesday, June 23, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Va., Confederate statues across the U.S. are being torn down, vandalized or relocated. While the conversation has focused mostly on these physical monuments, symbols of the Confederacy permeate many parts of American life.

Roads, schools, jails, parks and even holidays serve as reminders of the Civil War. In 2015, in the aftermath of the massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that left nine people dead, The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization “dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry,” started to take stock of all the publicly funded Confederate symbols in the U.S. It compiled a database that includes more than 1,500 entries. Here’s a look at some of them in the database:

confederate-symbols-charted

 

Highways/roads:

According to the database, there are nearly 500 street names that have a connection to the Confederacy. General Robert E. Lee has many streets in his name (as well as lanes, drives, roads and avenues). There’s the well-travelled Jefferson Davis Highway near the nation’s capital, as well as Jefferson Davis Avenue and Jefferson Davis Drive. In fact, the city of Alexandria, Va., alone has at least 31 streets directly connected to the Confederacy, and an additional 31 that might have links, according to the database and news reports.

Schools:

More than 100 public schools are named after Confederate icons. Texas is home to nearly 40 of them, according to the database, from Stonewall Jackson Elementary School in Dallas, to Fort Davis High School in Fort Davis (named after Jefferson Davis) and Lee College in Baytown.

Counties:

Entire counties in parts of the U.S. are named in honour of Confederate generals and soldiers. Take Bartow County, a small county in Georgia about an hour and a half outside of Atlanta, which is named in honour of Col. Francis S. Bartow, a Confederate leader and soldier who died during the First Battle of Manassas. His last words: “They have killed me, boys, but never give up.”

Similarly, there are more than 20 municipalities with names linked to the Confederacy. The City of Robert Lee in Texas, for example, boasts a population of nearly 1,200.

Parks:

There are at least nine parks named Confederate Park, not to mention those named after particular generals and soldiers. Rebel State Historic Site in Louisiana was named after a Confederate soldier who  split from his unit and was killed by three Union cavalrymen. As local legend goes, a family buried the soldier and in 1962 residents started holding yearly memorial services in his honour.

Holidays:

There are seven different holidays dedicated to Robert E. Lee and at least 10 in celebration of the Confederacy generally. There are also specialty Confederate days, such as Confederate Flag Day in Little Rock, Ark., Confederate Decoration Day in Nashville, Tenn., and Confederate Heroes Day in Austin, Tex.

Commemorative license plates:

At the time the database was compiled, at least nine states allowed Confederate commemorative license plates. Since then, two states stopped allowing them—Virginia and Maryland (the only non-Confederate state to ever allow them). Texas was the first to stop offering them in 2015 after a legal battle that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. At least seven states still offer the plates: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina and Tennessee.

Military bases:

Some of the largest military bases in the United States are named after Confederate generals. Fort Bragg, for example, which is home to the largest U.S. military population, was named after Confederate General Braxton Bragg, a commander of the Confederate army in Tennessee.

Flags:

Photos of the Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof holding the Confederate flag sparked its removal from locations across the United States. But the flag hasn’t disappeared. It’s still part of other symbols and flying at symbolic locations in the South. The Alabama Coat of Arms, for example, still features the Confederate flag.

Bridges:

There are at least four bridges named after Confederate icons. Most notably, the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. Pettus served as a U.S. senator for two terms, but was also a Confederate general and a leader within Alabama’s Ku Klux Klan. Ironically, the bridge was the starting point of the so-called Bloody Sunday march from Selma to Montgomery in support of black voting rights.


 

More than monuments: A look at America’s Confederate symbols

  1. Why start with the “little” monuments? If we are serious about not memorializing slaveovers, let us start with the biggies, which is the endgame of all of this…the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial, and Mount Vernon and Monticello.

    • Why not just do away with the name “America” — was not Amerigo Vespucci the father of Western colonialism?

        • Well — I could argue either way. I’m not dogmatic about it.
          If not the “father” — than certainly one of the pillars of colonialism.

          He was the first explorer after all to recognize both NA and SA as completely new continents. Columbus before him thought the “new world” was still just part of Asia.

    • You do understand the difference between recognizing someone who achieved great things but also was a slave owner, and celebrating someone because they were slave owners (and fought to retain that right)?

      • Washington and Jefferson had a choice, when they founded a new country and wrote a new constitution, and on a personal level, and on both levels they chose to continue slavery.

        And one cannot forget about Washington’s beliefs and actions with regard to the genocide of the American Indian, and the theft of their lands (with his family accruing personal benefit from his efforts).

      • Don’t forget to add those that were on the East coast in the Northern States who may not have owned slaves but had no problem profiting off the shipping, marketing and provisions of slaves.

  2. Well, it just goes to show you how important it is to be on the winning side.

    Can’t wait till the overthrow of the top 30%. It’s going to be so much fun!

      • . . . just as the union states battled against the confederacy – out of envy? If I wanted to be on their side I would have done so, a long time ago. They’re just not worth it!

        I’m just saying, this has little to do with truth or honour, not with the people needing to get rid of confederate monuments, nor with the wealthy having power over truth in our own scheming society.

        The way Trudeau is carrying on, Canada will be a lost cause before too long. And it’s not going to be the natives taking over.

        • Oh I knew you’d sneak in a shot at Trudeau while supposedly talking about US confederate statues.

          You guys just can’t help yourselves.

          Canada is booming…..you’re just jealous.

          • The entire history of Western civilization could be looking very different right now, if the slave-owners had won the war. the Americans would not be tearing down statues of the Union army, not the confederates, and it would be taken for granted that it was normal that some people (generally, white ones) could own others of their own kind (except that they are black).

            Instead, in western society in our times, the subjection of some women to men is seen as normal – but not all women – and certainly all black women. Generally, the difference is based on economic class (not even on the educated class vs the uneducated). One they reach a higher status, whether through marries, or hard word, or sheer luck, some women are allowed more control over their lives while others (the less fortunate) are practically the slaves of men – including through trafficking, due to their desire for a career, or a place to live, or healthcare, or groceries to live on. We see that as normal, however, just as once upon a time many in the US saw the ownership of black slaves brought to this land from afar (trafficked), as normal.

            That’s why winning is so important. It guides the direction history will take – as to which side is seen as right, and which is seen as wrong, according to some standard of morality. In truth, some category of individuals will have to be at the bottom of society in order for those higher up to be seen as having worth.

            In the not-so-distant future, the main religion in Canada will be Islam, and Canadians will be wondering what happened to their culture, or if they ever really had one.

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