As people across the country have taken to the streets to protest racism and police brutality in the United States, some have turned their frustration on public symbols of the nation’s racist past: Confederate monuments.
Protesters have vandalized and knocked down monuments in dozens of cities, including Montgomery, Ala., where a statue honoring the Confederacy’s most revered general, Robert E. Lee, was toppled in front of the high school that bears his name.
But the fight has not stopped there. Across the South, students, parents, and alumni are demanding name changes for schools that honor the men who waged war to maintain slavery.
Approximately 290 schools in 20 states currently bear the names of men with ties to the Confederacy, according to Education Week’s research. Since June 29, 2020, at least 50 Confederate-named schools have changed names, 29 of which were located in Texas or Virginia.
Countless other schools bear the names of individuals with racist histories, including 22 that were named after politicians who signed the Southern Manifesto opposing school integration after the 1954 Brown v. Board Supreme Court decision.
While campaigns to rid public spaces of the Confederate flag and to drop the use of Confederate-themed names for public spaces have existed for years, the death of George Floyd, a black man who died when a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck, could become a tipping point.
In the aftermath of a 2017 white-nationalist rally and counter-protest in Charlottesville, Va., and the murder of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., by a white supremacist in 2015, dozens of schools shed their Confederate names. Several districts rebranded buildings to honor black Americans from the civil rights era or Barack Obama, the first black president.
Despite those changes, state laws or public support for the Confederacy has stymied efforts to rename schools across large swaths of the South. Almost all the Confederate-named schools are below the Mason-Dixon line, which prior to the Civil War was the nation’s dividing line between slave states and free states.
Most of the Confederate-named schools are concentrated in seven states—Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. In Alabama and South Carolina, state laws restrict the renaming of public schools named for Confederate leaders and the removal of statues erected in their honor.
Sources: Education Week Research Center and Education Week Library, 2018; news reporting, school and district websites; National Center for Educational Statistics, 2017-18 (for private schools), and 2019-2020 (for public schools); Wikipedia; Southern Poverty Law Center data, 2016, 2019, and 2021.
- Schools that were named after an entity/person that had Confederate ties were included. This includes individuals who served in the Confederate armed forces or in positions of leadership in the Confederate government. For example, schools named after the county or city they are in were included if that city or county was named after a Confederate figure. This list of schools includes those that are in the process of changing their name, but have not decided on a new name. School names that have changed since June 2020 are italicized.
- Renamed dates in the database indicate when a new name was officially approved.
- Education Week updates this page with additional schools and school name changes as we become aware of them.
- On June 7, 2021 the public school directory and enrollment characteristics were updated to use the most recent, 2019-2020 school year NCES data.
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How to Cite This Data
Data: The Schools Named After Confederate Figures (2020, June 17). Education Week. Retrieved Month Day, Year from https://www.edweek.org/leadership/data-the-schools-named-after-confederate-figures/2020/06
Research: Holly Peele and Maya Riser-Kositsky
Demographic Analysis: Alex Harwin
Data Visualization: Emma Patti Harris
Web Production: Hyon-Young Kim