Confronting Symbols of Segregation and Racial Inequality


Yesterday, NASCAR announced that it is banning the display of the Confederate flag at all of its events and properties. The announcement followed the removal of several Confederate statues and monuments in the weeks since Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, sparking nationwide protests and demands for racial justice.

Confederate iconography has long been used as a tool for resisting racial equality. Symbols, memorials, and honorary recognition of the defenders and architects of slavery and of the advocates of racial segregation and white supremacy have been a source of frustration and assault in Black communities for decades.

EJI’s Segregation in America report addresses the history of Confederate statues and iconography and how they have been used to resist racial progress. We have documented the extensive and extraordinary number and scope of these symbols nationwide, even outside the South.

In Richmond, Virginia, and in Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile, Alabama, Confederate statues and monuments have been removed.

Challenges to symbols of racial oppression have spread worldwide, resulting in the toppling of the statue of the prominent slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol, UK, and the removal of monuments to Belgium’s King Leopold II.

Also this week, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday announced that he has directed staff to begin preparing an order that would prohibit the Confederate battle flag from all public spaces and work areas aboard Navy installations, ships, aircraft, and submarines. (Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger ordered in February that Confederate imagery and paraphernalia be removed from Marine Corps bases worldwide.)

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley this week endorsed efforts to “explore the issue” of renaming 10 Army bases and facilities that are named after Confederate leaders. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would not consider renaming the bases.