Confederate monuments and statues around the United States have been removed in recent weeks thanks to Black Lives Matter protesters and growing public outcry. In some cases, protesters have pulled the statues down themselves as an unauthorized but symbolic gesture, while in others the local governments have begun taking action themselves.
Confederate monuments dot public spaces in the U.S. — memorials for the Civil War that nearly tore the country in two. In many cases, these statues are seen as a glorification of the Confederacy, and with it, White supremacy in general. While some argue that the statues represent American history, others — including professional historians — say that history is best left in textbooks and that there are sinister connotations to leaving statues of a failed rebellion standing.
According to the Society of American Historians, most Confederate monuments were not built during the aftermath of the Civil War, but decades later, between 1877 and 1964. Many of the wealthy people who commissioned these statues and donated them to local municipalities had ties to racist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan. They were seen as a revision of history, not a record of it, and were arguably a means of intimidating the newly-freed Black populations of some areas.
"If white nationalists and neo-Nazis are now claiming this as part of their heritage, they have essentially co-opted those images and those statues beyond any capacity to neutralize them again," said the Smithsonian American Art Museum's senior curator, Eleanor Harvey in a 2017 interview with National Geographic.
Still, change is a slow and uncomfortable process, as the removal of these statues proves. Some have been torn down illegally by protesters in recent weeks, and authorities are searching for those people. However, their message is spreading, since some governments are now changing their tune and removing those statues. Here is a look at the most prominent Confederate monuments to come down this spring.
A statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee was removed from outside of Robert E. Lee High School in Montgomery, Alabama on the night of June 1. According to a report by AL.com, four people were charged with first-degree criminal mischief in connection with the disappearance of the statue. The statue was reportedly recovered, but damaged, and was placed in storage for the time being.prevnext
A small, private plot called the Confederate Memorial Park just outside of Tampa, Florida flew the largest Confederate flag ever made — 30 by 60 feet — until last month. According to a report by The Tampa Bay Times, multiple people threatened to burn the flag if it was not taken down, prompting the Sons of Confederate Veterans to stop flying it on June 1. It had only been hung up in 2008, and was clearly visible from nearby highways, prompting some to see it as a public statement.prevnext
New Orleans, Louisiana
Protesters in New Orleans, Louisiana pulled down a statue of wealthy slave-owner John McDonogh on June 13, according to a report by WWLTV. They threw the statue into the Mississippi River, but someone a group of anonymous men retrieved the statue days later and returned it to the custody of the city. City officials said that the monument had been damaged with hammers and spray paint, and would be kept in storage. Two people were arrested in connection with the statue's destruction.
New Orleans has been working steadily for years to remove Confederate monuments and rename public places with Confederate monikers. Most of that has been done legitimately through the local government since 2015, but city officials said that they would not tolerate vandalism. However, they have repeatedly acknowledged the city's need to disentangle itself from revisionist history.prevnext
Greensboro, North Carolina
According to a report by WFMY-TV, a statue known as the Confederate Soldiers Monument in the Green Hills Cemetary was found toppled on July 3, 2020. The monument marked a mass grave for Confederate soldiers. The Statue was placed in storage, with no plans so far to display it again.prevnext
Between June 6 and June 16, Black Lives Matter protesters were credited with tearing down three Confederate monuments in Richmond, Virginia, according to a report by The Richmond Times-Dispatch. They were a statue of Williams Carter Wickham in Monroe Park, a statue of Jefferson Davis on Monument Avenue and the Howitzer Monument on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University.prevnext
This happened 🖤 pic.twitter.com/md5oXcoqCu— WANaziWatch (@WANaziWatch) July 4, 2020
The United Confederate Veterans Memorial in Seattle's Lake View Cemetary was toppled on July 3, according to a report by Capitol Hill Seattle Blog. Authorities have still not uncovered the culprit. The cemetary is private property.prevnext
Down it goes. A monument dedicated to Confederate soldiers who died at a Union prison camp in Indianapolis is being dismantled from Garfield Park Monday morning. pic.twitter.com/Yi53OAQOvi— Mykal McEldowney (@mykalmphoto) June 8, 2020
On June 8, the city of Indianapolis agreed to remove and dismantle the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument from Garfield Park. The 35-foot tall statue originally marked a mass grave for Confederate soldiers who died at Camp Morton, but was moved into the city in 1912. Indianapolis acquiesced to the outcry of protesters and took the statue down, according to a report by ABC News.prevnext
A statue of Confederate leader Jefferson Davis stood on the Kentucky Capitol Rotunda from 1936 until last month. Outcry against the statue had been building since 2015, with prominent Republicans joining the call for removal in 2017. According to a report by WDRB, it was removed by the city on June 13, 2020.prevnext
A plaque outside of the Maryland State House was removed by a unanimous vote on June 15, according to a report by The Washington Times. The plaque honored Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War, but officials agreed that the sight came too close to sympathizing with the cause of the Confederacy.
Elsewhere in Maryland, White's Ferry was renamed last month. It previously carried the name of Confederate General Jubal Early, but the operators chose to rename it amid the national wave of protests.prevnext
Greensboro, North Carolina
Confederate statue toppled in Green Hill Cemetery
The monument was previously vandalized in 1969.July 7, 2020
North Carolina has seen the hasty removal of no less than four Confederate monuments this spring. A privately-owned Confederate monument was removed from a public intersection in Fayetteville, North Carolina on June 27, 2020 by the organization that owns it, the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The UDC told local news outlet WRAL-TV that they put the monument in storage out of fear it would be vandalized, and so far they have not announced plans to return it or relocate it. This monument has already been moved three times since it was created in 1902.
Eight other Confederate monuments have been removed by local officials in the last month, in the towns of Greenville, Louisburg, Oxford, Raleigh, Rocky Mount, Salisbury and Wilmington. In several cases, local officials expressed their intent to display the statues elsewhere, in a better context. All of the statues were made after the start of the 20th century.prevnext
A statue of Confederate soldier Sam Davis was removed from the Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tennessee in early June. The statue was erected in 1999, dand removed at the order of school officials, according to a report by The Tennessean.prevnext
Only a concrete pad remains where The Confederate War Memorial once towered for decades at Pioneer Park in Dallas. After days of deconstruction, the monument was removed late last month — over a year after the Dallas City Council originally voted for removal. @dallasnews pic.twitter.com/jAZaJGgFSR— Ryan Michalesko (@photosbylesko) July 7, 2020
According to a report by The Dallas Morning News, the "Confederate War Memorial" was removed from by city officials on June 24, following a lengthy legal battle. The Fifth Court of Appeals of Texas had repeatedly blocked requests to remove the statue, yet when the City Council expressed fears that it might be targeted by protesters, they got permission to have it put into storage. It came down shortly before a scheduled rally in the city.prevnext
Another statue owned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy was voluntarily removed in Alexandria, Virginia last month. According to a report by The Washington Post, it remains in storage in an undisclosed location.
Meanwhile, the Stonewall Jackson Monument and the Statue of Matthew Fontaine Maury were both removed by the city of Richmond Virginia last week. The city had previously seen three monuments forcibly torn down by protesters.prev