Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

The Symbols of the Past and Their Influence on the Present: An Examination of Confederate Monuments and Their Effect on African American Communities

Publication Date



Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, College of


Political Science, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Nathan Griffith

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Studies have shown that racial identity correlates to one’s well-being within society through multiple, major fields such as mental health and socioeconomics. Furthermore, scholars have focused their examination of how disparities such as institutional forms of discrimination effect the well-being of African Americans. With Confederate symbols taken on a new distinction as common forms of institutional discrimination within the current political climate, one must wonder how these long-standing symbols have affected the well-being of African Americans communities today. Despite the removal campaign taking place across the American South in conjunction with the “Black Lives Matter” movement, more than 2,000 statues remain in the U.S. as contested symbols of racism and institutional discrimination. Therefore, I intend to study the effect Confederate monuments have on the well-being racial identity and socioeconomic status of African Americans in a local townscape. Specifically, the presence of Confederate monuments lower the racial identity and socioeconomic status of African Americans compared to those townscapes without the presence of monuments. Through analyzing socioeconomic factors of over 30 counties across the American South and their presence of Confederate monuments (collected from 2017 U.S. Census and the Southern Poverty Law Center), I predict the presence of Confederate monuments lower racial saliency/regard and can be shown through African American community’s high rate of disability, poverty, and unemployment. This data aims to provide an additional perspective to the impact confederate symbols may have on the African American community and provide a new context towards the undetermined future of these symbols within local townscapes.

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