Southerners Continue to Push Back Against Confederate Symbols

All across the South, southerners have been pushing back against confederate symbols and iconography. We’ve been following the developments in this blog.

A confederate memorial at the University of Texas is the target of vandalism, as we see in this story. “The memorial area is no stranger to defacement, it’s been targeted by vandals many times over the last several years, and in fact campus leaders removed statues of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson last fall to appease student protestors who complained Davis was a ‘racist symbol of slavery.’ ”

The school board in Houston, Texas is in the process of renaming schools currently named after prominent confederates. This story tells us, “It’s good bye to Lee High School and also Henry Grady, Richard Dowling and Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson middle schools. They all have to find new names after the Houston school board passed a resolution last month. ‘I think it was the right thing to do and I think the majority of the board members agreed with that and I’m elated that we passed that item,’ said Trustee Rhonda Skillern-Jones. She has pushed for HISD to abandon names of Confederate figures and find ones that better reflect the diversity of Houston’s students.”

A committee of the Florida House is taking steps to remove a statue of confederate general Edmund Kirby Smith from Statuary Hall in the US Capitol. According to this story, “The legislation (HB  141) calls for the Great Floridians Program within the Department of State be the agency responsible for coming up with choosing new Floridians to replace Smith and Gorrie. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, to all of us, representing the third largest state in this country, with the diversity and strength of Floridians born here or brought here, I believe we can do better,’ Nancy Hayman, a Miami-Dade County Commissioner and former state legislator, said in her testimoney in support of the bill. Miami-Dade’s County Commission recently passed a resolution allowing the Great Floridians Program to review who is representing Florida. Members of the committee agreed. Dania Beach Democrat Joseph Geller called it a ‘disgrace’ that Smith is one of two Floridians honored in the U.S. Capitol. ‘I don’t know very much about General Kirby Smith, but he’s a not a symbol of the best that this state has to offer, and he ought to be removed as quickly as that can be done without any question.’ ”

According to this story, South Carolina State Senator Marlon Kimpson introduced a bill in the South Carolina legislature to remove the confederate battle flag from The Citadel’s Summerall Chapel. “The bill, if approved, would require a vote by the institution’s board of directors to move the flag. Currently a two-thirds majority in the General Assembly is needed — the same as was required to remove the rebel banner from Statehouse grounds last summer. Kimpson said his bill reflects the desire of most of The Citadel’s board and school leadership. ‘The majority of the board voted to request the General Assembly to exempt the gift from the yacht club (the Confederate flag) from their Heritage Act,’ Kimpson said. ‘The legislation is narrowly tailored to achieve what the president, board and community all want: to remove that symbol of division from a place of worship on a campus so that the school can move forward into the 21st Century.’ The legislation allows the flag to be moved to another location on the campus or to a museum.”

Confederate heritage continues its nationwide retreat.

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3 comments

  1. An interesting add-on to that – there is a movement to change the name of Grady High School in Atlanta. Grady High is named after Henry Grady. He’s the guy that pushed for the “New South” during Reconstruction. Although he is not attached to the Confederate Flag and Confederate iconography – his vision of the “New South” was one of white supremacy, putting him in line with many prominent visions of that time including those wielding the Confederate Flag. I think this movement is symbolic of the movement to remove Confederate iconography from the landscape – it is much more than just attacking Confederate symbols, it is a resurgence of the civil rights movement.

  2. I have to admit that when someone says “I don’t know much about” so and so then proceeds to offer an opinion about they topic, I really have trouble taking them seriously. You don’t have to know Smith’s detailed life story, but the “he was Confederate, therefore is entirely bad and should be banned” assumption would bother me if that pedometer was my representative.

    Also, did they offer any alternatives or just prefer “anybody” else, like the story of when people asked Lincoln to replace McClellan and he replied with something like “I need somebody, saying just anybody won’t do.”

    1. That troubled me as well, but I don’t think they were saying he was entirely bad, just that the display of his statue represented state approval of the confederacy and what it fought for, which was the perpetuation of slavery. In addition, as a confederate soldier, he did commit treason against the United States, and a big question is, should a state government in the United States be in the business of honoring people who were enemies of the United States, killed United States soldiers, and committed treason against the United States?

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