Texas leads the way in removing Confederate monuments

There was a big push to get rid of Confederate monuments, memorials and symbols after the Charleston church shooting left nine African-Americans dead three years ago.

Since then, more than 100 monuments and symbols have been removed from 22 states and the District of Columbia.

And the state leading the way: Texas.

That surprising tidbit is contained in an updated report on Confederate monuments, state holidays, place names and symbols in America from the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Alabama-based advocacy nonprofit organization tracks civil rights and hate crimes in the US.

“For more than 150 years, nearly every Confederate monument wasn’t even touched,” Heidi Beirich, intelligence project director for the center, told CNN. “That has only happened in the last couple of years.”

What explains the many removals in Texas? It’s the people.

“It’s a community push to have conversations about race,” Beirich said.

That conversation is spreading quickly. In fact, nearly every major city in Texas is starting to talk about race, she said.

“It’s a little bit more of a groundswell.”

There’s still a long way to go

Since the massacre in Charleston, local and national leaders across the US have debated whether Confederate symbols primarily honor the past or perpetuate harmful beliefs.

The Lone Star State had 31 removals over the past three years, the report says, followed by Virginia with 14, Florida with nine, Tennessee with eight, Georgia and Maryland with six, North Carolina with five and Oklahoma with five.

However, there is still a long way to go. Nationwide, more than 1,700 such monuments still remain.

“As a consequence of the national reflection that began in Charleston, the myths and revisionist history surrounding the Confederacy may be losing their grip in the South,” the SPLC said in the report. “Yet, for the most part, the symbols remain.”

Texas has the second-highest number of Confederate monuments of any states in the nation still left standing at 209. Only Virginia beats that number, with 242 remaining.

The SPLC report found that 1,728 Confederate memorials and symbols remain in the United States, many protected by state law. The study notes that there are:

— 772 monuments in 23 states and the District of Columbia

— More than 300 monuments in Georgia, Virginia or North Carolina

— 100 public schools named for Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis or other Confederate icons

— 80 counties and cities named for Confederates

— Nine paid holidays for state employees in five states

— 10 US military bases named for Confederate military heroes

The SPLC excluded an additional 2,600 symbols that the group considered primarily historical, such as battlefields, museums and cemeteries.