Charlotte Talks: Why Does America Memorialize The Confederacy?

Jun 17, 2020

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The nationwide uproar over police brutality and racism has led to the toppling and removal of Confederate monuments. How did these icons become part of the landscape in the first place?

This program originally aired March 12, 2019

A statue of Confederate soldier Henry Lawson Wyatt, who was said to be the first Confederate soldier to die in battle during the Civil War, is one of three Confederate statues on the State Capitol grounds in Raleigh.
Credit Ron Cogswell / Flickr

More than 1,700 monuments, statues, memorials and the like paying tribute to the Confederacy can be found across America, including about 100 in North Carolina.

For some, especially here in the South, they are a piece of heritage, a view that’s shared by Donald Trump. But for many, they are a painful reminder of the country’s past – not just the Confederacy, but also the Jim Crow era in which these icons sprang up.

While the debate about their future continues, protesters are taking matters into their own hands -- toppling many of them as part of the unrest over the police killing of George Floyd.

What’s the story behind these monuments? What do their continued presence say about America?


Karen Cox, UNC Charlotte, professor of history, expert on Southern history and culture (@SassyProf)

Hilary Green, University of Alabama, associate professor of history and co-director of the African American Studies program (@HilaryGreen77)

William Sturkey, UNC Chapel Hill, assistant professor of history, expert on race in the American South (@william_sturkey)