160 Confederate symbols retired in 2020

When the assailants entered the United States Capitol last month, some of them waving Confederate flags, they did not find the statue of the best-known rebel general, Robert E. Lee.

Lee’s effigy, which represented the state of Virginia as part of the National Collection of Capitol Statues for 111 years, had been removed just weeks earlier, one of at least 160 Confederate symbols that were removed or removed from public spaces in 2020, according to a new tally from the Southern Poverty Law Center that it shared with The Associated Press before publication.

The legal center, which has a list of around 2,100 statues, symbols, plaques, buildings and public parks dedicated to the Confederation, plans to present the latest figures from its “Whose inheritance?” Database. later on Tuesday. The group has tracked the movement to tear down these monuments since 2015, when a white supremacist stormed a South Carolina church and killed several black worshipers.

“These racist symbols only serve to defend revisionist history and the belief that white supremacy remains morally acceptable,” SPLC Director Lecia Brooks said in a statement. “This is why we believe that all symbols of white supremacy should be removed from public spaces.”

After visitors and tourists can re-enter the Capitol, there will be a statue across Virginia honoring Barbara Johns, a 16-year-old black girl who staged a strike in 1951 against unequal conditions at her segregated Farmville high school. His actions led to the integration of public schools across the country, mandated by the landmark Supreme Court decision Brown vs. Board of Education.

Each state legislature may elect up to two representatives to honor from the Capitol collection. In December, a state commission recommended replacing Lee’s statue with one of Johns. Supporters of the measure told the AP that the Virginia legislature has almost completed the process to place it with George Washington’s.