Symbols of the Confederacy have retained their ugly power for 150 years, and the number of monuments has actually increased at crucial moments in recent American history. An infographic from the Southern Poverty Law Center maps out Confederate iconography, including monuments and names of schools, from the end of the Civil War in 1861 to 2016–revealing that the increase in tributes to the Confederacy mirrors important moments in civil rights.
The strikingly simple infographic is annotated with major events in the history of race relations post-Civil War, including the founding of the Ku Klux Klan, the Tulsa Race Riots, and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Even during the Great Depression, Southern states found the money to continue building Confederate monuments.
But it’s rulings from the Supreme Court on cases that deal with race that correlate the biggest swells of Confederate iconography in the country. The number of Confederate monuments–particularly those on courthouse grounds–rose steeply after the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson “separate but equal” ruling that legalized segregation and heralded the era of Jim Crow. Another high point in the number of monuments occurred during the Civil Rights Era, post-Brown v. Board of Education, which declared segregated schools unconstitutional.
The infographic itself was designed to make these connections clear, with different colored dots representing names of schools, monuments on courthouse grounds, and other icons of the Confederacy that continued to flourish even when the Civil War was over. Even in the last 15 years, about 30 more monuments have popped up in American cities.
As these monuments to the country’s racist roots once again become a focus on the national stage, it’s more important than ever to remember the disturbing legacy they represent–and fight those who would keep them standing.KS