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Future of Remaining Confederate Symbols Topic of Roundtable

June 16, 2021 by Brock Blasdell
The Confederate monument on the west side of the North Carolina State Capital grounds is dismantled and loaded on a flat bed truck on Salisbury Street on Sunday, June 21, 2020 in Raleigh, N.C. (Robert Willett/The Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

The future of the nation’s remaining symbols of the Confederacy could be decided at an upcoming POV roundtable hosted by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Facebook live event, whose date marks the sixth anniversary of the mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., will feature activist Bree Newsome, documentary director CJ Hunt and SPLC Chief of Staff Lecia Brooks as they discuss the topics of hate, White supremacy and the path to removing symbols of them from public spaces across the nation.

“Out of that awful, horrendous massacre began a movement to talk about and remove symbols of the Confederacy from the public space,” Brooks said, referring to the inception of the SPLC’s Whose Heritage? project, which began shortly after the shooting. 

Also on the docket for discussion will be the latest data from the SPLC’s latest Whose Heritage? findings. The data project, which started after the SPLC learned that the Charleston shooter revered symbols of the Confederacy, attempts to arm citizens with a database of standing Confederate symbols with hopes that communities will then work toward their removal.

“The fact of the matter is that these symbols, these statues, and monuments primarily went up in a moment in time when the country was pushing back on Black, human, and civil rights,” Brooks said. “The first era of erecting these monuments was post-reconstruction. The second peak was during the civil rights movement. They’re not at all monuments to the war dead. And if they were, they should be in cemeteries. They are really assertions of White supremacy.”

According to the SPLC, many of these statues have acted as meeting grounds for White supremacist groups. One example of this was the Unite The Right Rally organized as part of a defense of the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, N.C., in 2017. The rally erupted into a protest filled with those brandishing symbols of the Confederacy.

To date, 333 monuments dedicated to the memory of the Confederacy have been removed. According to the SPLC, more than 2000 still stand.

“I invite everyone to come,” Brooks said. “We’re commemorating that awful day in Charleston. We want to remember the nine African Americans that were killed. We want to honor their lives and really encourage activists across the country to continue to push for the removal of these monuments and statues.” Learn more about the SPLC’s work to create a database of Confederate symbols here. To watch the live Facebook event click here on June 17 at 6:30 p.m. CT / 7:30 p.m. ET.

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