Creating More Inclusive Public Spaces: Structural Racism, Confederate Memorials, and Building for the Future

Survey: Few Americans Want to Leave Confederate Monuments as They Are, but Divides Over Solutions Persist by Party, Race, Religion

The Brief

A new national survey conducted by E Pluribus Unum and the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found nearly three-quarters of Americans (73%), including 89% of Democrats, 75% of independents, and 51% of Republicans, support doing something about existing Confederate memorials and statues in public spaces—whether that’s re-contextualizing them with information about the history of slavery and racism, moving them to a museum, or destroying them—rather than leaving them as they are.

The study provides important new insights into how Americans view Confederate monuments, their attitudes toward creating inclusive public spaces, and their beliefs about the role of race and racism in America. Data from the report indicates that while few Americans want to leave Confederate monuments as they are, the divisions over solutions persist by party, race, religion.

Key Findings

  • Where most Black Americans see racism, many white Americans see Southern pride
    • Black Americans are twice as likely as white Americans to see streets, monuments, and public celebrations named after and in honor of Confederate leaders as symbols of racism than as symbols of Southern pride. Meanwhile, at least nine out of ten Republicans, compared with about four in ten Democrats, see each of these as a manifestation of Southern pride, rather than of racism.
  • Americans’ views on the legacy of the Confederacy and racism are only moderately affected by the region in which they live
    • Americans’ views on the legacy of the Confederacy and racism are only moderately affected by the region in which they live. Nearly one in four Americans fully support monument reform, believing that Confederate monuments are symbols of racism and should be removed. This includes 22% of Americans in the South. Strong opposition to monument reform—the belief that Confederate monuments are symbols of Southern pride and should be left as they are—follows a similar trend, with 18% of Americans and 20% of residents in the South fully opposed.
  • There is national consensus on celebrating community diversity in public spaces
    • Nearly all Americans (96%) agree that a community’s public spaces and buildings should be open and welcoming to people of all races and backgrounds. Additionally, three-quarters of Americans (76%), including 65% of Republicans, feel a special sense of pride when they see their community’s diversity celebrated in public monuments and art. Yet, Americans are divided over what values that should guide the creation of new monuments:
      • White Christian groups notably placed a high value on patriotism, and white evangelical Protestants stood out for their support for American exceptionalism (37%) as one of the most important values that should guide the creation of new public monuments.
  • There is broad national support for truth-telling and repairing the damage of racist histories
    • Almost all Americans (90%) say they support efforts to tell the truth about the history of slavery, violence, and discrimination against racial minorities in their communities, including 84% of Republicans. Additionally, three quarters of Americans (74%) support repairing the damage done by past violence or discrimination against racial minorities, including more than half of Republicans (52%).

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