Debi Elliott, Lisa Brooks, Emanuel Ame Church discussed on Morning Edition


The army of statues across the American south thinned out this year These are monuments honoring leaders or soldiers of the southern rebellion of the 1860s Most went up in later times as a public defense of racial segregation The 21st century question is not really whether to remember history but how NPR's debi Elliott reports More than 50 tributes to the confederacy were removed relocated or renamed in 2021 according to an ongoing tally from the whose heritage project at the southern poverty law center They were monuments they were schools They were road which we saw a lot of schools changed their names which I think is quite significant Lisa Brooks is chief of staff at the SPLC Because no student should have to go to school in a place that's named after a former enslaver She points to Jacksonville Florida where citizens push to change the names of 6 public schools including Robert E. Lee high school named for the confederate general But Brooke says some 2000 memorials remain mostly in the south They're continuous symbols of white supremacy The whose heritage project started keeping count after the 2015 massacre at Emanuel AME church in Charleston South Carolina At the time images of the man who killed 9 worshipers posing with a confederate flag prompted South Carolina and Alabama to remove the flag from state capitol grounds Walmart and other retailers quit selling confederate merchandise Brooke says two years later there was another spike in doing away with confederate symbols after the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville Virginia And then last year when the memorials became a flashpoint after the police killing of George Floyd It felt to me like people put together all the pieces and were able to identify that as being foundational to white supremacy It's like people understood it And it was a tangible thing they could point to as being anti black racism Early this year Mississippi began flying a new state flag featuring a Magnolia blossom instead of the confederate battle emblem In Washington D.C. the House of Representatives voted to remove all confederate statues from public display at the U.S. capitol and Virginia the state with the most confederate monuments led the way in taking them down.

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