Confederate Monuments and the History of Lynching in the American South: An Empirical Examination

Henderson, Kyshia, Psychology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Trawalter, Sophie, BA-Frank Batten School, University of Virginia

Debates surrounding Confederate symbols have permeated public discourse with supporters of these symbols claiming they represent pride and heritage. However, those against Confederate symbols cite the symbols historical link to racism and intimidation as evidence that they represent hate. Consistent with these claims, previous research and historical analysis suggest that these symbols do represent hate by way of status threat. Using county level data on the frequency of Confederate monuments and lynching in 11 Southern states, we contribute to discourse on the meaning of Confederate symbols by exploring their relationship with lynching in the South, a recognizably racist practice borne out of racist intent. We find that county level frequency of lynching predicts county level frequency of Confederate monuments such that counties with more lynching are those with more monuments. We argue that the erecting of Confederate monuments and the practice of lynching both worked for the same cause, to terrorize and intimidate Black people.

MA (Master of Arts)
Confederate symbols, Racism
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