Mr. McCluney said it was unreasonable to judge Confederate leaders by today’s societal standards. He also contended that many soldiers who fought for the South in the Civil War were buried in unmarked graves and deserved to be memorialized.
“Is it fair 200 years from now to judge us?” he said. “They were men of their time.”
The Law Center said that 31 public schools were expected to change their names this year to sever ties with their Confederate heritage.
Last year, a 131-year-old statue commemorating Confederate soldiers was removed in Alexandria, Va., on June 2. Protesters in Richmond, Va., toppled a Jefferson Davis statue on June 10 and vandalized other Confederate memorials. On June 13, a statue of Davis was removed from the Kentucky Capitol Rotunda.
A statue depicting a Confederate soldier holding a rifle in his hands was removed from Charlottesville, Va., in September.
Several other Confederate monuments and memorials in multiple states were covered in graffiti during protests, which extended to other people and institutions seen as having a racist past.
In one case, a Confederate statue fell not to protesters or politicians but to Mother Earth: Hurricane Laura caused a 105-year-old statue in Lake Charles, La., to tumble in August.
Some institutions that long supported the imagery changed their tune.
In late June, Mississippi removed the Confederate symbol from its state flag. And this month, North Carolina said it had discontinued the use of a specialty license plate bearing the Confederate battle flag.