What should be done with the monuments erected to honor Confederate leaders and soldiers — as well as Confederate names attached to streets and buildings? What role do Confederate symbols have on the American landscape? These are questions that have simmered for decades. Confederate monuments situated in front of courthouses and on town squares throughout the South symbolize the system of white supremacy promoted by the Confederacy. Because of their origins and meaning, these monuments elicit a visceral reaction of pain and anger in many, leading to calls for their removal.
At the Atlanta History Center, we believe that Confederate monuments are tangible signs of the Jim Crow era and can thus be used to educate about that painful period of our history. To be clear, if these monuments are to stay, they should be accompanied by contextual information explaining their historical role. Confederate monuments cannot remain objects of veneration; instead, they should be transformed, through contextualization, into artifacts of interpretation that explore Civil War memory and the Jim Crow South.
The Atlanta History Center has created tools to help put Confederate monuments in historical perspective, including general information on the Lost Cause and a template for adding specific information relevant to local monuments. Should communities throughout Georgia and other states decide to retain their Confederate monuments, it is our hope that the resources on this webpage will be of help in contextualizing the monuments and transforming them into educational tools.
For materials, questions, or comments, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.