Monday marked the 153rd anniversary of the Battle of Appomattox Court House. But the 153rd year since the end of the Civil War has witnessed an uptick in assaults on Confederate memorials nationwide.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu took down his city’s four Confederate statues in 2017, sometimes overnight — an action the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation rewarded Landrieu its 2018 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.
Florida state senators voted unanimously in January to replace a monument dedicated to Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith with a statue of civil rights activist and educator Mary McLeod Bethune. While North Carolina activists did not manage to remove University of North Carolina’s Silent Sam statue, 17 senior UNC professors threatened to destroy the statue, stating they “do not fear arrest.”
A Texas man faces five to 20 years of prison time and a fine not exceeding $250,000 for attempting to bomb a Houston Confederate statue; but when alleged vandals tore down a Durham Confederate monument in August 2017 after the “Unite the Right” rally, they got off scot-free.
Charlottesville’s Confederate statues occupied much of the national limelight due to the aforementioned “Unite the Right” rally, as well as the city council’s inability to remove the Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson statues pending litigation. The city covered the statues after the death of Heather Heyer but removed the shrouds in February.
Cities and activists took the aforementioned actions in spite of the fact 57 percent of Americans surveyed in September 2017 believed Confederate memorials should stay in public areas. (RELATED: Poll: Clear Majority Want To Keep Confederate Statues)
When not tearing down physical manifestations of history, cities opted to erase the intangible, renaming schools and streets named after Confederate generals. Hollywood, Fla., decided to rename its Robert E. Lee, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and John Bell Hood streets Liberty, Freedom, and Hope, respectively. The Peterson School Board in Virginia voted to rename a school named after Robert E. Lee with “Lakemont,” one named for A.P. Hill with “Cool Spring,” and one dedicated to J.E.B. Stuart with “Pleasants Lane.”
Kings Dominion renamed its “Rebel Yell” roller coaster “Racer 75” but evaded directly addressing whether it was changing the name to be politically correct. But not every name change was so drastic. For instance, another school named after J.E.B. Stuart, this one in Fairfax, Va., rebranded itself as Stuart High School.
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