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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Explained: What are the symbols of the Confederate states in the US?

As Black Lives Matter protests rage on in the US, President Donald Trump has refused to rename military bases named after Confederate generals.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: June 19, 2020 9:43:25 pm
US Confederate symbols, renaming Confederate military bases, Jefferson Davis, George Floyd The statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis splattered with paint after it was toppled on Wednesday, June 10, in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo: AP)

US President Donald Trump has said he will not consider renaming military bases named after Confederate generals, after such demands arose amid the Black Lives Matter protests.

On Wednesday (June 10), Trump tweeted, “It has been suggested that we should rename as many as 10 of our Legendary Military Bases, such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Benning in Georgia, etc. These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage… Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations.”

Who has demanded that the military bases be renamed?

Following African American George Floyd’s death, after a white police officer pressed his knee onto his neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25, large-scale protests have broken out across the US and some other parts of the world against racism, reviving the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which was started in 2013.

Amid these protests, some of the participants have demanded the removal of statues or monuments that can be perceived as symbols of racism, including Confederate monuments. This week, protestors tore down a statue of Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Virginia. Davis was the president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.

Not only in the US, but in the UK as well, the statue of noted slaveholder Robert Milligan was removed from outside the Museum of London Docklands. Similarly, anti-racism protestors removed the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol on Sunday. Further, the BBC reported that during a BLM protest in Central London on Sunday, a statue of Sir Winston Churchill was sprayed with graffiti.

Before Davis’s statue was removed on Wednesday night, American auto-racing company NASCAR announced it will prohibit the display of the confederate flag from all NASCAR events and properties. “The presence of the confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry,” the company said in a statement.

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What are Confederate symbols?

The Confederate States of America or the Confederacy refers to the government of 11 Southern slaveholding states that seceded from the Union in 1860-61 in the American Civil War, after they felt threatened by the election of Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln as the US President in 1860.

These pro-slavery states operated under the presidentship of Jefferson Davis and vice president Alexander Stephens. Soon, the Confederacy acquired symbols such as the Confederate flag and their own stamps. These states carried out all their affairs separately until they were defeated in 1865. States that were a part of the Confederacy included South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Texas, among others.

On July 10, 2015, South Carolina state troopers ceremonially lowered the Confederate flag after 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Storm Roof, who massacred nine African Americans at a black church in Charleston in June 2015, was seen holding the flag.

The flag, which is used to honour the Confederates who died in the Civil War, is seen by many white supremacists as a symbol of Southern pride.

Confederate names and symbols can be found on commemorative licence plates, public schools, statues, military bases, parks, roads and counties.

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According to a report in Politico, there are over 220 Confederate symbols in the state of Virginia alone, which include three military bases named after Confederate war heroes. According to the Southern Poverty Law Centre, there are more than 1,700 such symbols across the US, including more than 700 Confederate statues.

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