Dozens of Confederate memorials around the United States were taken down on the heels of a 2015 mass shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, carried out by American white supremacist Dylann Roof, who murdered nine Black parishioners including the church’s pastor.
Two years later, in defiance of plans to take down a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, hundreds of self-described neo-Nazis and white supremacists gathered for a “Unite the Right” rally. Clashes at that rally with counter-protesters peaked when a man drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors, injuring 19 people and killing one woman named Heather Heyer. At the end of the August event, three were dead, dozens injured, and the ongoing debate over whether Confederate monuments ought to be protected or removed remained unresolved.
The debate gained renewed fervor in 2020 following the May 25 murder of George Floyd. Protests in cities and small towns around the country and world included acts of civil disobedience such as covering Confederate monuments in graffiti or toppling Confederate statues and other monuments perceived as symbols of oppression and slavery. Across the United States, pressure mounted to take such monuments away and out of the public eye, with dozens of municipalities taking action to do so.
There remain more than 2,000 Confederate monuments in the U.S., according to the “Whose Heritage?” data project by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Stacker analyzed the SPLC’s research and ranked states according to which have the most Confederate memorials, including statues, parks, schools, streets, highways, or practically any structure which, in one way or another, honors a Confederate figure or the whole coalition of seceded states. Data was last updated Jan. 21, 2022 (released Feb. 1).
Montana by the numbers
- Total number of Confederate symbols: 6
- City with the most Confederate symbols: Diamond City, Dillon (2 symbols each)
- Number of symbols removed since 1880: 1
Almost three years after its removal, Montana in April 2020 replaced its Confederate Memorial Fountain with The Equity Fountain. The monument to the Confederacy stood for more than a century but had come under fire along with hundreds of others following the violence that erupted in Charlottesville in 2017.
Elsewhere in the state, other memorials remain, including the Jeff Davis Creek in Dillon.
The first half-dozen Confederate monuments went up as soon as the Civil War ended in 1865. From then until 1900, most years saw between two and six monuments go up. Then, installations surged: In 1911 alone, 49 Confederate monuments were erected around the country, according to the SPLC. 1911 also coincides with the peak of Jim Crow laws designed to disadvantage Blacks and perpetuate segregation. Other surges appear throughout the first half of the 20th century, with pronounced increases in Confederate monuments going up throughout the civil rights movement and smaller increases at the turn of the 21st century and immediately following the election of President Barack Obama in 2008.
Various groups stand by claims that these memorials serve as important historical markers; others argue the memorials glorify white supremacists and ignore those who were hurt, enslaved, and killed by the scourge of racism in this country. Some historians suggest looking at how post-war Germany has handled its past: Concentration camps serve as museums that detail the horrors that occurred therein so people never forget what happened; with nary a Hitler or SS statue to be found. Instead, statues and monuments memorialize victims who were lost as well as those who survived.
States with the most Confederate memorials
1. Virginia: 290 Confederate symbols (107 removed since 1880)
2. Georgia: 285 Confederate symbols (26 removed since 1880)
3. Texas: 242 Confederate symbols (65 removed since 1880)
4. South Carolina: 224 Confederate symbols (4 removed since 1880)
5. North Carolina: 176 Confederate symbols (31 removed since 1880)