Kentucky among states that removed a combined 168 Confederate monuments in 2020

According to a count from the Southern Poverty Law Center, 168 Confederate symbols came down in 2020, but 704 monuments are still standing.
by Lisa Autry |

new report shows the number of Confederate symbols removed across the nation last year include three in Kentucky, one in Indiana, and none in Tennessee. 

Many more across the nation were renamed or taken down following the May 25 police killing of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis.

In the seven months following the Floyd killing, more symbols were removed from public property than in the past four years combined. 

confederate monument marker
A marker noting Bowling Green as the former state capital of the Confederacy was removed from the WKU campus in Aug. 2020. (photo by Lisa Autry of WKYU)

According to a count from the Southern Poverty Law Center, 168 Confederate symbols came down in 2020, but 704 monuments are still standing.  SPLC Chief of Staff Lecia Brooks says some states made it more difficult to remove monuments following a watershed event in South Carolina.

“The flag came down in Charleston in 2015, so the southern states feared their states would be targeted next and implemented these preservation laws soon after that,” Brooks told WKU Public Radio.

Tennessee passed a Heritage Protection Act in 2013 even before the Charleston church shooting.  The Volunteer State removed no Confederate symbols last year.  In stark contrast, Virginia was first among states for removing 71 Confederate symbols last year, followed by North Carolina at 24. 

Kentucky removed its statue of Confederacy President Jefferson Davis from the state Capitol in 2020, as well as the monument of Confederate leader John Castleman in Louisville.  Western Kentucky University also took down a marker naming Bowling Green as the former Confederate State Capital of Kentucky.  The marker remains in storage as a WKU committee considers renaming some buildings and colleges named after slave owners.

The U.S. as a whole still has nearly 1,800 Confederate symbols, which include not just monuments and statues, but school names, parks, and military installations.

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This story first ran on WKYU, the public radio station at Western Kentucky University.

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