People For the American Way Foundation

It’s Long Past Time to Stop Honoring Confederate Leaders

News and Analysis
It’s Long Past Time to Stop Honoring Confederate Leaders

Sometimes social change comes from surprising places. That’s exactly what happened in December 2020, when the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed in both the House and the Senate.

In addition to allocating the federal military budget, both houses of Congress rejected Donald Trump’s demands and included the NDAA pushed back on many of Donald Trump’s demands, including two key provisions: one that renamed military bases that bear the names of Confederate leaders and the other that scaled back the use of federal force – and eliminated the deployment of officers in unmarked clothing – at social protests and demonstrations. Following Trump’s veto, both houses of Congress overrode it in a stark rebuke during his final weeks in the White House.

Our country’s legacy of slavery and white supremacy has enabled systemic racism to permeate every aspect of society. And although these provisions are just two small acts in the long march toward racial equity in this country, they are significant.

Contrary to Trump’s claims, most Confederate memorials were not erected in the aftermath of the Civil War. In reality, they were predominantly established during two distinct periods of time. The first spike began around 1900 during the oppressive Jim Crow era, when racism was codified into our institutions and systems. The second was during the 1950s and 1960s during the height of the civil rights movement.

The call to remove Confederate names from our military bases and federal and public property recognizes the distortion of that history and sends a clear message that relics celebrating a racist legacy are unacceptable.

As People For President Ben Jealous wrote, “We need to confront the systemic racism that leads to police killings of Black men, women, and children—killings for which justice far too often is delayed and denied.” The move to strip away symbols that glorify white supremacy is an important step in recognizing that Black Lives Matter.

People For is proud to support the tireless advocacy of those who are leading the fight for racial justice, and we are grateful to our members for supporting these and similar initiatives. We look forward to continuing the fight in 2021 and beyond.

To take action today, sign our petition to remove and rename all public monuments to the confederacy. Keep an eye on our channels for more ways to get involved in the fight against racial injustice and white supremacy.


Ben Jealous, Black Lives Matter, Civil War, Confederate Monuments, Congress, Donald Trump, Far Right, history, Jim Crow era, NDAA, police reform, racial justice