In the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd—sparking Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the US and around the world—there is renewed energy in the effort to remove Confederate symbols.
Since George Floyd’s murder May 25, there have been 143 Confederate symbols removed—equal to the number of all removals in the previous five years, a BeenVerified analysis shows. Still, more than 1,600 Confederate symbols remain across the US.
Many states in recent years have removed statues, plaques and schools named after Confederate figures. However, these states have had the fewest symbols removed: South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama.
The BeenVerified analysis uses 2019 data collected from the Southern Poverty Law Center and analysis of dozens of 2020 media reports to reflect Confederate symbols that have fallen in recent weeks. Some top findings:
- States that have the largest percentage of remaining symbols: South Carolina (98%), Mississippi (94%) and Georgia (93%), Alabama (92%) and West Virginia (91%).
- California and Maryland have the top percentage of removals: Out of states that had at least 10 Confederate symbols, California has removed 92%, followed by Maryland (80%), Oklahoma (39%), Florida (35%) and the District of Columbia (25%).
- States with the most remaining symbols: Virginia (228), Texas (202), Georgia (198), South Carolina (193), North Carolina (150), Mississippi (140), Alabama (119), Tennessee (103), Louisiana (78) and Arkansas (60).
- For every removal, six monuments and symbols remain: In total, states have removed 270 Confederate symbols over the years; but 1,652 still remain, our analysis shows.
- Most removed since 2013: States that have removed the most monuments and symbols since 2013 are: Virginia (49), Texas (46), North Carolina (30), Florida (29) and Maryland (12).
- Most removed in wake of George Floyd protests: Virginia (29), North Carolina (23), Florida (16), Alabama and Texas (9 each). (Some planned removals in some states, however, are being challenged in court.)
- Not just located in the South: While the greatest concentration of symbols remain in former Confederate states and Border States, many exist in Northern states and new states formed after the Civil War, including: Ohio (5), New York (3), Washington, Idaho and Montana (2 each) and California (1).
- Who they honor: Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson are the top Confederates with statues, roads and schools in their name; Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Confederate general who was the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, has the sixth most number of monuments.
In all, 1,634 Confederate public monuments and symbols remain. Monuments tracked by the SPLC include statues, plaques, schools, roads, military bases, buildings, parks and other public designations honoring former Confederate soldiers. Our analysis includes symbols that have been pulled down by protestors, officially taken down or decommissioning plans have been announced (see methodology for full details).
Confederate monuments: Removal trends by year
“The Confederate symbol removal gained traction after the 2015 Charleston, South Carolina, church shootings, which ignited a nationwide debate on these symbols and their prominence in public spaces,” said Brian Ross, a senior data analyst for BeenVerified. “But after peaking in 2017, the trend has been on a decline—until the death of George Floyd.
States with the most/least Confederate removals by percentage
Examining states that originally have at least 10 Confederate symbols, here are the top five states that have removed monuments and symbols as a percentage of the total number found within their state.
Confederate monuments and symbols: Who do they honor?
While symbols throughout the US are dedicated to about 195 different Confederates, the vast majority feature Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson. A number of monuments and memorials also commemorate other top Confederates of that era.
BeenVerified analyzed July 2019 data of monuments and symbols tracked by the SPLC, which include: statues, plaques, schools, roads, cities, counties, bodies of water, colleges, military bases, buildings, parks, holidays, bridges, scholarships, plaques and commemorative license plates. Our analysis of dozens of news reports found 143 additional Confederate symbols pulled down in 2020. We included nine monuments pulled down by protesters—the rest have been officially decommissioned or decommission plans have been announced. Our original analysis on Confederate symbols can be found here; this update reflects additional symbols pulled down through Sept. 13, 2020.
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BeenVerified’s mission is to help people discover, understand and use public data in their everyday lives through a number of services, including a names search lookup tool. BeenVerified and our associated websites curate dozens of public data sources and proprietary data sets to give people easy and affordable access to billions of public records.