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Southern Poverty Law Center calls for monuments' removal as two states celebrate Confederate Memorial Day

Southern Poverty Law Center calls for monuments' removal as two states celebrate Confederate Memorial Day
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The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) condemned the observance of Confederate Memorial Day as Alabama and Mississippi celebrated the holiday on Monday.

The SPLC, a nonprofit civil rights group based in Montgomery, Ala., criticized states for continuing to observe the holiday, noting that symbols of the pro-slavery movement have “been used by white supremacists as tools of racial terror” since Reconstruction.

“The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans erected hundreds of memorials to the Confederacy across the United States as part of an organized propaganda campaign, created to instill fear and ensure the ongoing oppression of formerly enslaved people,” the group stated.

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“This is the heritage they continue to champion. One that not only is reflected in monuments, but also in school names, parks, municipalities, military bases, roadways, prisons, and flags, all 'honoring' a history of brutality and racial subjugation,” the SPLC continued.

“Sadly, many southern states protect and defend this legacy by establishing laws that protect these symbols of hate and white supremacy,” the group added.

The statement comes after the nation saw scores of Confederate symbols taken down in public spaces across the country last year amid widespread protests against police brutality and racial injustice sparked by Minneapolis police killing George Floyd.

The group said 170 Confederate symbols “were removed from the U.S. landscape” last year, while also noting that more than 30 other memorials to the Confederacy “have been removed or are pending removal” this year.

“And yet, there is much work to be done. Thousands of these symbols still litter our public spaces as reminders of white supremacy and anti-Black racism. We recognize that removing these symbols is only the first step,” the group said.

“We must work for racial justice and an honest reckoning with our country’s past and present. That cannot be accomplished by removing a memorial or renaming a school, but it is a necessary step,” it added.

According to The Associated Press, state offices temporarily closed in observance of the holiday in both Mississippi and Alabama on Monday.

The holiday is reportedly one of several connected to the Confederacy that are observed in both states, which the AP notes also commemorate Robert E. Lee Day on the same day as Martin Luther King Jr. Day.