Report says 110 Confederate memorials removed since 2015 — including eight in TN (where new National Confederate Museum is planned)

The Southern Poverty Law Center has produced a report saying 110 monuments, place names and other memorials or symbols tied to the Confederacy and its leaders have been removed nationwide since 2015, when a shooting at a black church in South Carolina energized a movement against such memorials. The group says it has identified 1,728 that remain.

The Associated Press, in an article on the report, says that the Sons of Confederate Veterans – which, along with the United Daughters of the Confederacy, played a role in erecting many of the memorials  – has at the same time been creating some new ones. The organization is also planning a National Confederate Museum to be located at Columbia, Tenn.

The SPLC report is HERE. A couple of excerpts indicating Tennessee trails some other Southern states both in establishing memorials and removing them:

Three states stand out for having far more monuments than others: Georgia (115), Virginia (108) and North Carolina (97). But the other eight states that seceded from the Union have their fair share: Texas (68), Alabama (60), South Carolina (58), Mississippi (52), Tennessee (42), Arkansas (41), Louisiana (32) and Florida (26).

…The survey identified 110 Confederate symbols removed since the Charleston massacre, including 47 monuments and four flags, and name changes for 37 schools, seven parks, three buildings and seven roads. Among them was the Confederate battle flag that had flown at the South Carolina State House grounds in Columbia for 54 years.

Texas led the way (31), followed by Virginia (14), Florida (9), Tennessee (8), Georgia (6), Maryland (6), North Carolina (5) and Oklahoma (5). Eighty-two removals were in former Confederate states.

Excerpt from the AP report:

The change is notable considering that removing such memorials wasn’t widely discussed until the killing of nine black people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, said Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a liberal activist organization based in Montgomery that monitors extremism. White supremacist Dylann Roof has been sentenced to death for the 2015 attack.

After the Charleston shooting, photos surfaced of Roof posing with the Confederate battle flag, helping to change the national dialogue.

“I think it kind of signifies something monumental,” said Beirich, director of the organization’s Intelligence Project. “I think people are finally willing to confront the history and come to terms with it.”

Many of the Confederate monuments that are now controversial were erected in the early 1900s by groups composed of women and veterans. Some honor generals or soldiers; others bear inscriptions that critics say wrongly gloss over slavery as a reason for the war or portray the Confederate cause as noble.

The Old South monuments are supported by groups including the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which is erecting new memorials even as others are removed.

“They’re taking them down, and we’re putting them up,” said Thomas V. Strain Jr., commander in chief of the organization. He said the group isn’t tracking monument removals or name changes, but to him, 110 “seems a little high.”

Members have raised two giant Confederate “mega-flags” on private property and erected four monuments in Alabama alone this year, Strain said, and they’re asking to place a new Confederate monument outside the courthouse in Colbert County, in northwest Alabama. Commissioners are considering the request.

The organization also is building a new headquarters that will include The National Confederate Museum in Columbia, Tennessee. The organization, on its website promoting the project, said the museum will counter attempts by opponents “to ban any and all things Confederate through their ideological fascism.”

The museum will tell the “Southern side” of the war, Strain said.

“It’s not just dedicated to the soldiers, it’s dedicated to the wives and children who had to endure that five years of hell also,” he said. “We’ll have Southern uniforms there, not Union uniforms. We’ll have Southern artillery shells, not Northern ones.”

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