In 2015, the horrific, racist killing of nine Black members of the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, forced Americans to reckon with the hateful history behind the Confederate flag, which was embraced by the shooter. This sparked a nationwide movement to remove Confederate monuments, flags and other symbols from public spaces. In response, the SPLC created Whose Heritage?, a project dedicated to creating a comprehensive database of Confederate symbols on public lands.
For the past six years, Whose Heritage? has tracked the removal and relocation of these Confederate symbols, and the data shows we’re making strong progress.
Six years after the Charleston church shooting, we have documented the removal of more than 300 public Confederate symbols, including 170 monuments.
Following the Charleston shooting, South Carolina officials acted first, passing legislation to remove the Confederate flag from the State House grounds, where it had flown since 1962. However, the South Carolina Heritage Act ensures that no symbols can be removed in that state despite efforts led by community groups.
New data from the SPLC also shows that more than 1,895 Confederate symbols are still publicly present in the U.S.; 692 of those symbols are monuments, many of them prominently located at county courthouses and town squares. In addition to monuments, statues, plaques and markers, the overall number includes government buildings, schools, parks, counties, cities, military bases and streets and highways named after Confederate figures.
Although our country has steadily achieved new milestones in the fight to remove Confederate monuments and symbols, there is still significant work to be done. You can learn more about steps you can take to help remove monuments in your community by viewing our Whose Heritage? Action Guide.
The Southern Poverty Law CenterP.S. New episodes of our podcast Sounds Like Hate explore the stories of community leaders who led the charge to remove Confederate monuments in their communities. Listen and subscribe here.