News

Texas Still Has the Third Highest Number of Confederate Memorials in U.S.

The push to remove Confederate memorials continues.
The push to remove Confederate memorials continues. Daniel Mayer / Wikimedia Commons
Over the past couple of years, anti-racism advocates have celebrated the removal of Confederate monuments in cities across Texas, including Dallas, Denton and Gainesville. Similar efforts to dismantle symbols of hate have appeared nationwide, but a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center  underscores how much work activists say remains to be done.

Texas still has the third highest number of Confederate monuments and is home to at least 242 "live Confederate memorials," according to the report. Virginia has 290, and Georgia has 285.

The Confederacy lost its bloody effort to preserve slavery more than 150 years ago. Still, 2,089 Confederate memorials can be found across the country and its territories, according to the third edition of the law center's "Whose Heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy."

Destroying memorials won’t erase slavery’s legacy, said Kimberly Probolus, a center fellow and researcher on Confederate memorials. “But abolishing these memorials is a first and essential step in combating the white supremacist values of the Confederacy while drawing on historical memory to facilitate community healing,” she said during a press conference Tuesday.
Lecia Brooks, the center's chief of staff and culture, said that in 2020, Texas tied for third place in the number of memorials removed. But it took home second place last year with 15 removals, with Virginia and Florida coming in first and third, respectively.

Advocates for racial equality have been working for decades to tear down shrines to the Lost Cause. Their movement gained momentum in 2015, when a white supremacist, who’d posted photos of himself with the Confederate flag, killed nine Black worshippers in a church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Then in 2020, after a white Minneapolis police officer murdered a Black man named George Floyd, the movement was reenergized. Brooks notes that between May and December of that year, 157 Confederate symbols came down.

Still, Rhondalyn Randolph, president of an NAACP branch in Kentucky, said the Confederacy’s ripple effects have been long-lasting.

“Hatred across our country, it has a foundation,” she said. “And a chunk of its foundation, the majority of its foundation, is embedded in the Confederacy.”

“The Confederate flag remains to be one of the most intractable symbols from one of the ugliest chapters in U.S. history." – Congressman Adriano Espaillat

tweet this
The report says that there are 723 live Confederate monuments across the U.S. But there’s an even higher number of roadways (741) that have been named to honor Confederates, along with 201 schools, 38 parks, and 104 municipalities and counties — among other places and things — that work to “reinforce white supremacy.”

In addition, the report spells out that such memorials are primarily in the South but can also be found in other regions. For instance, 30 remain in states that hadn’t even yet been admitted to the Union at the time of the war.

Certain trends can also be seen in the timing of when these memorials were erected. According to the center, monuments were popular following Reconstruction and during Jim Crow, and the battle flag was dusted off to oppose civil rights after World War II. Then, schools were named for Confederates after a 1954 Supreme Court decision outlawed segregation in public schools.

The report further found that following the Charleston church massacre, 377 Confederate memorials across the U.S. were relocated, removed and renamed. And the three most commemorated Confederates? Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson.

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat, a Democrat from New York, has taken the fight to Congress. He’s introduced a bill that would prohibit the use of federal funds for the creation, maintenance or display of Confederate symbols on federal public land and other federal property.

“The Confederate flag remains to be one of the most intractable symbols from one of the ugliest chapters in U.S. history representing racism, slavery and the oppression of African Americans and other people that were marginalized,” he said.

Last August, on the fourth anniversary of the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the center noted that Texas was still home to the second highest number of schools with Confederate-linked names.

According to the center's tally at the time, Dallas was still home to at least 20 displays of Confederate iconography, including at least 11 schools.
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Simone Carter, a staff news reporter at the Dallas Observer, graduated from the University of North Texas' Mayborn School of Journalism. Her favorite color is red, but she digs Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.
Contact: Simone Carter