After decades of turmoil and the bloody Civil War, the ratification of the 13th Amendment to ban slavery on Dec. 6, 1865, should have been the end of the Confederacy as we know it.
But as we all know, that’s sadly not the case.
According to the Historical Marker Database, there are 13,921 Civil War markers in the United States (which includes monuments to both the Union and Confederacy). Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of those celebrate the South, the people who fought for the right to own slaves — relics and namesakes that probably shouldn’t be around if we’re serious about trying to move on from the past.
Some people argue that the Confederacy is a part of history and should be known. Sure, OK.
But there’s a yuuuuuge difference between acknowledging a painful part of American history and keeping an 80-foot monument dedicated to a man who famously called slavery “a positive good.”
With that in mind, here are a few symbols of the Confederacy that have long outstayed their welcome:
1. The state flag of Mississippi, whose design includes the Confederate battle flag.
2. The bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest — the alleged Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan — in the Tennessee Capitol.
3. The 351-foot obelisk marking Jefferson Davis’ birthplace in Fairview, Kentucky, is a tribute to a man who owned more than 100 slaves and launched a war to preserve his right to do so.
4. Naming Jefferson Davis High School in Montgomery, Alabama, after the president of the Confederate States of America isn’t very respectful of the school’s 94% black student population.
5. The Benjamin “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman statue at the South Carolina Capitol celebrates a man whose changes to the state constitution disenfranchised black citizens for 73 years.
6. Recognizing Robert E. Lee on the same day as Martin Luther King Jr. in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama is in extremely poor taste and should probably be moved to a different day, at least.
7. A lawsuit blocking the removal of Birmingham, Alabama’s Confederate Monument was dropped last fall, but there’s still no progress on removing it.
9. The stained glass depictions of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in Washington, D.C.’s National Cathedral could probably come down too.
10. It’s probably time to stop issuing state license plates featuring the Sons of Confederate Veterans logo that includes the Confederate battle flag.
These plates are available in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
11. And while we’re at it, let’s rename sports teams and replace mascots named after Confederate rebels.
To be fair, this mascot “Hey, Reb!” is better than the school’s original one — a wolf named Beauregard dressed in a Confederate soldier’s jacket and cap — but the issue remains: If black students are telling school administrators their sports team name and mascot seems racist (as they did at protests last fall), it is in the best interests of school administrators to make sure their concerns are addressed in a meaningful and constructive way.
12. Lake Calhoun in Minnesota is named after John. C. Calhoun, a white supremacist whose defense of slavery inspired the start of the Civil War. Do you really want to swim in that?
The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church — where alleged white supremacist Dylann Roof has been charged with shooting 9 black parishioners on June 17, 2015 — stands at 110 Calhoun Street.
14. Last but not least, military personnel stationed at Georgia’s Fort Gordon probably deserve a better namesake than the man believed to have been the state’s head of the Ku Klux Klan.
Removing Confederate symbols doesn’t replace genuine equality, nor does it count as an apology. It’s simply the very least we can do and something we should have done years ago.
Fortunately, we’re not starting from zero.
Several governments have taken steps to stop honoring the Confederacy. Three states have stopped issuing license plates featuring a Confederate flag, Georgia removed the Confederate battle flag from its state flag in 2006, and last year South Carolina stopped flying the Confederate flag at its state house after activist Bree Newsome scaled the flagpole to remove it herself. And after a successful petition and national news coverage, the University of Texas at Austin finally removed its statue of Jefferson Davis.
Public opinion is changing. And unlike history, it’s much less forgiving.
Here’s hoping we can move on, finally, from this part of history and start addressing the systemic and structural racism that has kept it alive for so long.