Confederate Monuments In Illinois: Do They Exist?

ILLINOIS — The death of George Floyd gave renewed energy to those who have long called on state leaders in the South to remove monuments, plaques and other symbols commemorating the Confederacy.

Floyd, a Black man, died on Memorial Day while in custody of Minneapolis police. In the weeks since Floyd’s death, several states including have heeded their call, according to a new analysis by BeenVerified.

While the greatest concentration of symbols remain in former Confederate and border states, surprisingly, many exist in Northern states and states formed after the Civil War.

While California, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and a handful of others states all house a small number, Illinois is listed among those with no Confederate monuments by BeenVerified.

Chicago’s South Side, however, is home to the Confederate Mound at Oak Woods Cemetery. The monument marks a mass grave containing the remains of more than 4,000 Confederate prisoners of war who died at Camp Douglas, located in what is now Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood.

The mass grave is topped by a bronze statue of "a solemn Confederate soldier," who "stands there looking down on Confederate Mound with his arms crossed across his chest, holding his hat in his hand," according to Chicago Magazine.

The National Park Service invites the public to visit the Confederate Mound, which is open for visitation from sunrise to sunset daily. But over the years, there have been calls for the Confederate Mound’s removal despite its location in a private cemetery. The memorial is No. 7 on the Make It Right Project‘s 2018 list of the "10 Most Unwanted Statues."

The Make It Right Project notes that the Confederate soldier "towers over the graves of several notable African Americans, including Ida B. Wells. The anti-lynching activist was born into the dehumanizing system of slavery defended by those the statue honors." Chicago’s first black mayor, Harold Washington, is also buried at Oak Woods.

Illinois has also been home to other controversial statues and images.

Earlier this month, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan called for the removal of a portrait of Stephen A. Douglas from the Statehouse, as well as statues of both Douglas and Pierre Menard from Capitol grounds.

Douglas, who owned slaves under his wife’s name in Mississippi, ran for president against fellow Illinoisan Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Pierre Menard, who became Illinois’ first lieutenant governor in 1818, forced enslaved Africans to build his house and labor on his farm in southern Randolph County, Illinois, according to archaeologists Christopher Stratton and Floyd Mansberger writing in the journal Illinois Antiquity. Though the state constitution forbade slavery from being introduced after Illinois joined the union, slavery was not formally banned in the state until a new constitution was drafted in 1848.

Over the weekend, tension erupted as demonstrators protested a statue of Christopher Columbus in Chicago’s Grant Park. Protesters tried to tear down the statue, and some clashed with police.

Columbus Statue Protest Results In Injuries, 12 Arrests

A CBS Chicago reporter shared video she said showed an officer use a baton to knock her phone out of her hand before kicking it, another reporter said he was assaulted by an officer, and activists said a video shows an officer "sucker punch" an 18-year-old, knocking several of her teeth out.

In other places across the U.S., statues and monuments to Columbus, credited with "discovering" America, have been removed amid complaints that the Italian explorer is responsible for killing and exploiting native peoples of the Americas.

Confederate monuments removed

Among states with monuments, Virginia, North Carolina and Texas have removed the most Confederate monuments in recent weeks. Virginia has removed 12, while North Carolina removed nine and Texas six.

The BeenVerified analysis used 2019 data collected from the Southern Poverty Law Center in addition to dozens of 2020 media reports to reflect Confederate symbols that have fallen in recent weeks.

Since 2013, these states have removed the most Confederate monuments and symbols, according to the analysis:

  • Texas, 40 monuments
  • Virginia, 30 monuments
  • Florida, 17 monuments
  • North Carolina, 15 monuments
  • Tennessee, 11 monuments

While the analysis shows 190 Confederate symbols have been removed over the years, 1,700 still remain in states across the U.S.

Despite removing the most monuments, Virginia and Texas are also among states with the most remaining.

  • Virginia, 232 monuments remaining
  • Texas, 202 monuments remaining
  • Georgia, 198 monuments remaining
  • South Carolina, 194 monuments remaining
  • North Carolina, 160 monuments remaining
  • Mississippi, 147 monuments remaining
  • Alabama, 121 monuments remaining
  • Tennessee, 98 monuments remaining
  • Louisiana, 84 monuments remaining
  • Florida, 62 monuments remaining

Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson are the top Confederates with statues, roads and schools named in their honor.

Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Confederate general who was the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, has the sixth highest number of monuments.

Many remaining monuments have been the targets of vandalism in recent weeks.

To protect monuments, President Donald Trump last month issued an executive order that instructed federal law enforcement authorities to prosecute people who damage federal monuments or statues.

The order also threatened to withhold funding from local governments that fail to protect their own statues from vandals.

See the full analysis at


via Across Illinois, IL Patch

July 20, 2020 at 09:49AM

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