The Southern Poverty Law Center says more than a thousand taxpayer-funded symbols of the Confederacy persist on the American landscape.
The left-leaning social justice and Civil Rights group released a report on Monday said the state of Alabama is in the top 10 when it comes to still-extant Confederate tributes.
The news came ahead of the Confederate Memorial Day in Alabama, a major state-backed tribute to the Stars & Bars mandated by the state government in Montgomery. Two other Confederate holidays still exist in Alabama — General Robert E. Lee‘s birthday, celebrated on the third Monday in January, and former CSA President Jefferson Davis‘ birthday, celebrated on the first Monday in June.
Six other states — North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas — continue to celebrate similar holidays.
The SPLC said in a news release some 718 publicly-funded monuments and statues paying tribute to Confederate figures remain in the U.S., nearly 300 of which are in Georgia; 109 schools named after Lee, Davis, or other Dixie icons; and even 10 U.S. military bases bear the name of a rebel against the USA.
Some state politicians, like State Auditor Jim Zeigler, have tussled with others who have tried to remove Confederate iconography from official spaces like the state Capitol, accusing them of attempting to “whitewash” or revise history.
SPLC President Richard Cohen says that’s often not the case.
“In many cases, preserving history was not the true goal of these displays,” Cohen said. “Rather, many of them were part of an effort to glorify a cause that was manifestly unjust — a cause that has been whitewashed by revisionist propaganda that began almost as soon as the Civil War ended. Other displays were intended as acts of defiance by white supremacists opposed to equality for African Americans during the civil rights movement.”
“Public governmental displays of Confederate monuments and other symbols undermine the promise of equality that’s the basis of our democracy,” added Cohen. “The argument that these tributes represent Southern ‘heritage’ ignores the heritage of African-Americans whose ancestors were enslaved by the millions and later subjected to decades of oppression.”
The SPLC included in their report an action guide for those seeking to purge the symbols from public sites.