It Won't Be Easy to Wipe Away Our Confederate Symbols

They're in our Capitol, and hints of them are in 7 state flags
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2015 5:42 AM CDT
Updated Jun 23, 2015 6:47 AM CDT
US Capitol Still a Confederate Statue Stronghold
A view of the National Statuary Hall.   (Architect of the Capitol)

Yesterday was the 150th anniversary of the day the last shots of the Civil War were fired and it turned out to be a bad day for symbols of the Confederacy: South Carolina's top lawmakers called for the Confederate battle flag's removal from the state Capitol and Walmart stopped selling items bearing the flag. But wiping those symbols from America may not be so easy. The latest:

  • The National Statuary Hall at the US Capitol is a surprising stronghold of statues of important Confederate figures, with no fewer than eight on display, including Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, reports NBC, which notes that the count doesn't include those who served as Confederate soldiers but are better known for their lives after the war. Each state has two historic figures in the collection and replacements are rare, although Alabama replaced Confederate military officer Jabez Curry with Helen Keller in 2009. Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and Florida each have one Confederate statue in the collection; Mississippi has two.

  • A top GOP lawmaker in Mississippi broke ranks yesterday to call for the Confederate emblem's removal from the state flag, the AP reports. "We must always remember our past, but that does not mean we must let it define us," House Speaker Philip Gunn said in a statement. "As a Christian, I believe our state's flag has become a point of offense that needs to be removed."
  • So what do Americans think? The Hill reports on a poll from the left-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund that found 21% of Americans support flying the flag at government buildings.
  • When it comes to the flag flying at the state capitol in Columbia, it'll almost certainly fly over the casket of State Sen. Clementa Pinckney when he lies in state there tomorrow, reports USA Today. Though officials plan to bring up the flag in a legislative session today, USA Today explains that the lengthy process requires a few two-thirds votes, a clearing of the judiciary committee, and floor debate. A Democratic state rep predicts Aug. 1 as a feasible deadline; a Republican state senator suggests waiting until 2016 rather than staging an "almost ... opportunistic" vote now. Gov. Nikki Haley has said she'll call a special session if the topic isn't tackled this summer.
  • Fascinating additional reading: The Washington Post takes a look at the subtle ways in which the "Confederacy lives on in the flags of seven Southern states."
(More Confederate flag stories.)

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