FLORENCE, Ala. — April 26th is Confederate Memorial Day in Alabama. It was created to remember Confederate soldiers who fought and died in the Civil War, although some say it should not be celebrated.
In opposition to the state holiday, The Southern Poverty Law Center is launching a new billboard campaign, calling for the removal of Confederate monuments in public spaces.
“The Southern Poverty Law Center first issued our report, Whose Heritage?, in 2016, in the aftermath of the Charleston massacre where we learned that the killer in that case fetishized Confederate iconography,” Lecia Brooks, SPLC Chief of Staff said. “We set out to do a kind of account or a census of all of the symbols of the of the Confederacy that existed in public space.”
In that report, the SPLC found more than 130 Confederate symbols ranging from monuments, to the names of parks, and a number of different roads and highways. Brooks called Confederate monuments symbols of treason and racism.
In Alabama, the campaign began in Florence with the first billboard located on Highway 72.
Brooks said this was in response to ongoing protests by Project Say Something calling for the removal of the Lauderdale County Courthouse monument.
Brooks said Confederate heritage should be honored and celebrated in a cemetery, “Not in public space and certainly not in front of the courthouse where African-Americans who are equal citizens in that county have to go before the court.”
Project Say Something founder Camille Bennett said she’s grateful for the SPLC’s support. She added that until the monument is relocated, the group’s protesting will continue.
The SPLC said the campaign will continue for one month with more billboards expected in Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina.