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14 Confederate relics that should be retired already.

It was time in 1865. But now it's really, really time.

14 Confederate relics that should be retired already.

After decades of turmoil and the bloody Civil War, the ratification of the 13th Amendment to ban slavery on Dec. 6, 1865, should have been the end of the Confederacy as we know it.

But as we all know, that's sadly not the case.

According to the Historical Marker Database, there are 13,921 Civil War markers in the United States (which includes monuments to both the Union and Confederacy). Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of those celebrate the South, the people who fought for the right to own slaves — relics and namesakes that probably shouldn't be around if we're serious about trying to move on from the past.


Some people argue that the Confederacy is a part of history and should be known. Sure, OK.

But there's a yuuuuuge difference between acknowledging a painful part of American history and keeping an 80-foot monument dedicated to a man who famously called slavery "a positive good."

You know, this guy, John C. Calhoun. Image by Wally Gobetz/Flickr.

With that in mind, here are a few symbols of the Confederacy that have long outstayed their welcome:

1. The state flag of Mississippi, whose design includes the Confederate battle flag.

Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

2. The bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest — the alleged Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan — in the Tennessee Capitol.

Image via Christopher Rice/Flickr (cropped).

3. The 351-foot obelisk marking Jefferson Davis' birthplace in Fairview, Kentucky, is a tribute to a man who owned more than 100 slaves and launched a war to preserve his right to do so.

Not to be confused with the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. Image via J. Stephen Conn/Flickr (cropped).

4. Naming Jefferson Davis High School in Montgomery, Alabama, after the president of the Confederate States of America isn't very respectful of the school's 94% black student population.

Jefferson Davis around 1880. Image via Netterville Briggs/Getty Images.

5. The Benjamin “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman statue at the South Carolina Capitol celebrates a man whose changes to the state constitution disenfranchised black citizens for 73 years.

Image via J. Stephen Conn/Flickr (cropped).

6. Recognizing Robert E. Lee on the same day as Martin Luther King Jr. in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama is in extremely poor taste and should probably be moved to a different day, at least.

Lee was born on January 19 and MLK Jr was born on January 15 — there's really no reason to celebrate both on the same day. Photo by Mathew Brady/Getty Images.

7. A lawsuit blocking the removal of Birmingham, Alabama's Confederate Monument was dropped last fall, but there's still no progress on removing it.

Image by Mark Goebel/Flickr.

8. The Confederate monuments in Baltimore, Maryland can totally find new homes in storage.

The city also has Robert E. Lee Park, which might do with a renaming. Image by Beau Considine/Flickr.

9. The stained glass depictions of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in Washington, D.C.'s National Cathedral could probably come down too.

Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images.

10. It's probably time to stop issuing state license plates featuring the Sons of Confederate Veterans logo that includes the Confederate battle flag.

Image by J. Stephen Conn/Flickr.

These plates are available in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

11. And while we're at it, let's rename sports teams and replace mascots named after Confederate rebels.

Image by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

To be fair, this mascot "Hey, Reb!" is better than the school’s original one — a wolf named Beauregard dressed in a Confederate soldier’s jacket and cap — but the issue remains: If black students are telling school administrators their sports team name and mascot seems racist (as they did at protests last fall), it is in the best interests of school administrators to make sure their concerns are addressed in a meaningful and constructive way.

12. Lake Calhoun in Minnesota is named after John. C. Calhoun, a white supremacist whose defense of slavery inspired the start of the Civil War. Do you really want to swim in that?

Image by Stacy/Flickr.

13. City officials might want to rename Calhoun Street in Charleston, South Carolina, too.

Image by Brendan Smialowski/Flickr.

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church — where alleged white supremacist Dylann Roof has been charged with shooting 9 black parishioners on June 17, 2015 — stands at 110 Calhoun Street.

14. Last but not least, military personnel stationed at Georgia's Fort Gordon probably deserve a better namesake than the man believed to have been the state's head of the Ku Klux Klan.

Image from Boston Public Library/Flickr.

Removing Confederate symbols doesn't replace genuine equality, nor does it count as an apology. It’s simply the very least we can do and something we should have done years ago.

Fortunately, we're not starting from zero.

Several governments have taken steps to stop honoring the Confederacy. Three states have stopped issuing license plates featuring a Confederate flag, Georgia removed the Confederate battle flag from its state flag in 2006, and last year South Carolina stopped flying the Confederate flag at its state house after activist Bree Newsome scaled the flagpole to remove it herself. And after a successful petition and national news coverage, the University of Texas at Austin finally removed its statue of Jefferson Davis.

Public opinion is changing. And unlike history, it's much less forgiving.

Here's hoping we can move on, finally, from this part of history and start addressing the systemic and structural racism that has kept it alive for so long.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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