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14 Confederate relics that should be retired already.

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

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.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

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The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

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James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

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To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

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AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

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