Researchers Make Troubling Link Between Confederate Statues And Lynchings

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A new analysis found a troubling, though not surprising, link between the number of Confederate monuments and the number of lynchings in history: Places with more Confederate statues have a history of more lynchings.

Researchers at the University of Virginia reviewed county-level lynching data between 1832-1950 and found that the number of lynchings in an area was linked to a higher likelihood of having monuments honoring Confederate leaders.

"This is not a surprising finding," University of Virginia researcher, psychologist, and study lead Kyshia Henderson told NBC News. "The prediction was always that lynching and memorials would be connected. We made this prediction because we knew the history of lynchings and memorials."

On the purpose of the study, Henderson added that "scholars and activists have long said that Confederate memorials are associated with hate. We want to provide empirical evidence of that."

Lynchings are a form of violence long used to terrorize Black people and communities. Though the data in this study reviewed dates into 1800s and 1950s, lynchings continued as late as 1981, with the Ku Klux Klan-sponsored attack and lynching of 19-year-old Michael Donald in Mobile, Alabama.

Researchers also went further, by reviewing the dedication speeches of 30 Confederate monuments, and finding that half used explicit racial phrases and even protecting the white race.

In recent years, communities and institutions have voted or demanded to remove several Confederate monuments around the country.

"For communities grappling with Confederate memorials and what to do with them, this work provides some guidance," Henderson said.

Sophie Trawalter, professor and researcher at UVA, noted in a statement to the outlet that the data presented in the study is correlational.

"We can't pinpoint exactly cause and effect. But the association is clearly there," Trawalter said. "At a minimum, the data suggests that localities with attitudes and intentions that that led to lynchings also had attitudes and intentions associated with the construction of Confederate memorials."

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