Pentagon Commission Releases List of 750 Places Named After Confederate Leaders to be Renamed
21:36 GMT 31.03.2022 (Updated: 13:29 GMT 06.08.2022)
About 50 years after the defeat of the Confederate rebellion, the US military began naming installations after rebel leaders amid a resurgence of white supremacist extremism that included revival of the Ku Klux Klan hate group and “lost cause” nostalgia for the era of Black enslavement.
On Wednesday, the Pentagon’s Naming Commission released a list of some 750 places named after Confederate generals, military officers and politicians that could be renamed amid a broader effort to end commemoration of the rebel movement that was defeated in 1865.
The list includes everything from military bases and forts to naval vessels, individual buildings and streets, and even the crests of certain warships and units that pay homage to the Confederacy, such as that of the USS Shiloh, a cruiser named after the bloody 1862 battle in Tennessee.
“This list is subject to change as we continue our work with the Department of Defense to identify all such assets across the service branches and the department,” the commission said in a statement.
“Inclusion on this list means only that the asset is subject to review by the Commission; renaming and removal recommendations will be included in our final report to Congress no later than Oct. 1, 2022,” the statement added.
The release follows the commission’s delivering of a list of 87 potential replacement names for the 10 US Army installations named after Confederate figures: Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Rucker, Alabama; Fort Polk, Louisiana; Fort Benning and Fort Gordon in Georgia; and Virginia’s Fort AP Hill, Fort Lee and Fort Pickett.
On the list of potential replacements are Dwight D. Eisenhower, a former US president and Supreme Allied Commander during World War II; Colin Powell, who was the first Black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Black Secretary of State; Harriet Tubman, an escaped slave who led numerous military expeditions to free thousands of enslaved Black Americans in the US South, including the 1863 raid on Combahee Ferry that freed 800 slaves; and several Medal of Honor recipients.
The process is notably being overseen by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the first Black American to hold the position.
The Confederacy formed in early 1861 out of 11 southern US states that feared the impending inauguration of US President Abraham Lincoln would lead to the end of slavery in the United States, which served as the basis for their plantation-based economies. The resulting war lasted four years, killed more than 1 million Americans, and left much of the South in devastation. However, it also resulted in the abolition of slavery and a Reconstruction program aimed at erasing the inequality between White Americans and the roughly 4 million freed Black slaves, most of whom could not read or write and had no knowledge of politics or business.
When the Reconstruction program was ended by political dealmaking in Washington in 1876 and the southern governments regained sovereignty from the US military, the old White aristocracy reasserted its power and erased most of the gains made by Black southerners, instituting a system of racial apartheid colloquially known as Jim Crow, which persisted until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. During this era of reasserted white supremacy is when places started being named after Confederate figures as the slavery era was looked at more favorably.
Amid the 2020 mass protests demanding justice for George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man from Minneapolis, Minnesota, who was murdered by a white police officer named Derek Chauvin, activists began tearing down statues of Confederate figures and other white supremacist figures erected during the Jim Crow era, calling them a commemoration of slavery and racism. The movement prompted numerous renamings and an end to many establishments flying the Confederate “Stars and Bars” battle flag, a widespread symbol of the US South, and sparked the Pentagon’s movement toward renaming, as well.
However, that effort was opposed by then-US President Donald Trump, who ordered the reversal of such plans and later fired his defense secretary, Mark Esper, for attempting to push ahead with the renaming process. Congress put the renaming commission into the Pentagon’s 2021 budget and passed it over Trump’s veto.
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