The Southern Poverty Law Center on Tuesday released the third edition of the “Whose Heritage?” report that tracks memorials to the Confederacy.
In 2021, 73 confederate memorials in the U.S. were removed, relocated or renamed, according to the report, but 2,089 memorials remain. In Alabama, 156 confederate memorials still remain, according to the report’s authors.
“While the vast majority of Confederate memorials today are located in former Confederate States (1,910), Confederate memorials can be found in Union States and Washington, DC (44), border states (102), states that were not yet admitted to the Union (30), and even Puerto Rico (1),” the report reads.
Since the Charleston church massacre in 2015, in which a gunman with a history of racism and obsession with Confederate symbols shot and killed nine Black church members, activists have successfully renamed, relocated, and removed 377 Confederate memorials from communities across the United States, the report states.
“This progress draws on the long history of Black activism contesting Confederate memorials. Despite the passage of draconian preservation laws over the past decade, communities have found creative ways to remove symbols of hate from public space,” the report reads.
Alabama’s memorial preservation law is joined by similar laws in Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, the report notes.
Rep. Mike Holmes, R-Wetumpka, introduced a bill in 2021 that would have strengthened the Memorial Preservation Act. APR reported on Feb. 11 that two members of a group identified by the SPLC as a hate group aided Holmes as he wrote that bill.
Kimberly Probolus, an SPLC researcher and an author of the report, said during a briefing Tuesday that although there are 723 monuments to the Confederacy there are more roadways honoring Confederates than there are then there are monuments.
“Together with schools, counties and municipalities, parks, buildings, holidays, military bases, commemorative license plates, bodies of water and bridges. These places do important cultural work to reinforce white supremacy,” Probolus said.
Since 2015 the report notes that 377 Confederate symbols have been removed, renamed or relocated from public spaces.
“According to President Joe Biden, when insurrectionists waved a confederate flag in the U.S. Capitol for the first time on January 6, 2021, it symbolized and I quote “the cause to destroy America.” Now, with the utmost respect to President Biden, it’s not just that the flag represented the cause to destroy America. It’s that it represented a government premised on white supremacy and the belief that white people had the right to enslave black Americans,” Probolus said.