WASHINGTON — D.C. is a town known for its history and heritage. Monuments have been built to honor founding fathers. Statues erected to memorialize figures who have shaped our country. Roads, schools and government buildings all bear the names of people from our past.
Not all of those figures represent the ideals that our country has moved toward.
Recent protests sparked by the death of George Floyd have renewed the call to rename and remove representations of a racially unequal world.
Protesters have taken it into their own hands in some cases, not waiting for the lobby and process to remove such symbols of hate.
The statue of Confederate General Albert Pike outside MPD headquarters, the only outdoor statue that symbolizes the Confederacy in D.C., was removed by protesters forcefully on Juneteenth, the day the last U.S. slaves were informed they were free after the Civil War.
Ten more statues of Confederate leaders stand inside the U.S. Capitol.
More than 20 roads in Alexandria alone are named after these same leaders. There are many other symbols of the Confederacy and the country's torrid past in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
The Southern Poverty Law Center put together a map of the locations of each of these symbols. You can explore that map below.
The call to remove these statues from leaders of our current government have rung out in different ways.
Nancy Pelosi has called for the removal of any Confederate statues in Congress.
“The statues in the Capitol should embody our highest ideals as Americans, expressing who we are and who we aspire to be as a nation,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) wrote in a letter. “Monuments to men who advocated cruelty and barbarism to achieve such a plainly racist end are a grotesque affront to these ideals. Their statues pay homage to hate, not heritage. They must be removed.”
D.C.'s representative in Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton, has pledged to identify the agencies-in-charge of the land that these statues may sit on and lobby them for removal. She believes they shouldn't be destroyed, but rather taken out of public view into a museum to learn from our tarnished past.
It isn't only Confederate statues, either. An attempt was made to take down Andrew Jackson's statue at Lafayette Square outside the White House, which was stopped by police in riot gear. Jackson owned more than 150 slaves at the time of his death before the Civil War, and is widely known to have contributed to the horrendous treatment of Native Americans in their removal from U.S. lands.
The SPLC did not include statues like Andrew Jackon's on their map, but with heightened tensions and protests across the country continuing, the call to remove symbols of any kind of inequality and hate will likely only grow.