With the Confederate battle flag being removed across the country from official flagpoles, store shelves and nearly every place in between, other symbols of the Confederacy are now under scrutiny, among them Generals Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, J.E.B. Stuart, P.G.T. Beauregard
Kayla Wilson, a rising senior at Robert E. Lee High School in San Antonio, Tex., already has over 2,800 signatures on an online petition urging that the name of the school be changed and that any other affiliations with the Confederate commander be removed.
“Even though Lee high school has long removed the confederate flag from flying, the confederate flag still remains paved into the ground of Lee high school,” she wrote on Change.org. “This flag represents decades of hate and racism. So any affiliation to do with Robert E. Lee and confederacy should be removed as well.”
Wilson, like much of the country, is still reeling after the racially motivated slaying of nine African Americans at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., last month. Public sentiment built quickly to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse (it was scheduled to come down at 10 a.m. Friday) and for other spots of public honor after the shootings at the historic black church.
Then, other emblems of the Confederacy — and, indeed, the legacy and meaning of the Confederacy itself — fell under scrutiny, causing a hard look at the many other ways the Southern rebellion continues to be memorialized across the country.
In California, a bill proposed this week would ban naming state and local properties after Confederate leaders. The bill requires changing the name of two California elementary schools named after Lee within two years of its passage.
The scrutiny extends beyond Lee.
Petitions to change the name of Stonewall Jackson Middle School in Charleston, W.Va., and J.E.B. Stuart High School in Fairfax County, Va., were also started recently. There’s even a petition to change the name of David Wark Griffith Middle School in Los Angeles, which is named after the director more commonly known as D.W. Griffith of the 1915 Civil War epic “Birth of a Nation.” While not a Confederate commander, Griffith has become another target for dissociation since the Charleston shootings precipitated a rethinking of how America’s racist history is memorialized.
There are plenty of other examples: Winthrop University’s Tillman Hall, named for Gov. “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman, and California’s Fort Bragg, a small city and former U.S. Army outpost named for Braxton Bragg.
Statues and mascots are also being rethought.
At the University of Texas in Austin, the newly elected student council leadership wants the Jefferson Davis statue removed. He was the president of the Confederacy. In New Orleans, Mayor Mitch Landrieu asked the City Council to remove four memorials honoring Confederate figures in the city. Lee, Davis and P.G.T. Beauregard all have statues, and there’s also an obelisk known as the “white supremacy monument” commemorating the White League, the Associated Press reported.
“This is about more than the men represented in these statues,” Landrieu said in a press release. “This discussion is about whether these monuments, built to reinforce the false valor of a war fought over slavery, ever really belonged in a city as great as New Orleans whose lifeblood flows from our diversity and inclusiveness.”
And it’s not just schools, statues and monuments.
Even things like a census area in western Alaska, originally named for Confederate Gen. Wade Hampton III, will be dubbed the Kusilvak Census Area.
Meanwhile, a professor at Dixie State University in Utah wants a new name for her school as well. “Dixie” is derived from “dix” which means means “10” in French; but the word has also historically been used to refer collectively to the states that seceded to form the Confederacy.
“Outside of Southern Utah, Dixie has an entirely different meaning,” psychology professor Dannelle Larsen-Rife told The Blaze. “It’s associated with the confederacy, and now it’s associated with hate crimes.”
“We’re on a slippery slope,” Jeff O’Cain told NBC News last month. O’Cain is a former commander of the local Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter, and he spoke to the media early in the debate over the Confederate battle flag.”You’re going to try to eradicate history so that it doesn’t offend anybody. It already happened! We can’t change history.”