You’ve head it before. The vast majority of Confederate monuments and memorials were dedicated at the height of the Jim Crow-era. The Southern Poverty Law Center released this helpful graph to help visualize this spike in monument dedications between roughly 1890 and 1940.
What made this possible was the disfranchisement of African Americans throughout the former Confederacy. The map below illustrates when legalized disfranchisement took hold, but more importantly, it also shows those areas where African Americans constituted a majority of the population.
It’s a legitimate question to ask how the monument landscape of the South would have been different had African Americans been allowed to take part in the political process that made the wave of Confederate monument dedications possible. This is especially worth asking in connection to those counties where African Americans made up the majority of the population.
Would there be as many Confederate soldier statues on courthouse lawns and more elaborate memorials in prominent public spaces? Would there have been more representations of the black experience during the Civil War? How about black Union soldiers and other commemorations of emancipation?
The question at the center of the Confederate monument debate in 2019 is whether they represent the collective values of the community. The graph and map above suggest that in many parts of the South they never did.