Saturday, September 1, 2007

NAACP wants bust of first Catholic chief justice removed

A bust of the first Catholic chief justice that is displayed in front of City Hall in Frederick, Maryland may be taken down. The local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is calling on city officials to take down the bust. Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, one of Maryland's most prominent sons, served on the nation's highest court for 28 years, and was responsible for the Dred Scott v. Sanford, (60 U.S. 393) decision that declared blacks to be non-citizens and made slavery legal in all territories. The opinion propelled a divided nation into war.

The movement has drawn a mixed response from the Catholic community, with some leaders arguing that it is wrong to remove a piece of art honoring a historic figure while others said the move could promote a sense of healing.

If the bust is removed would it then be necessary to go around the country and remove all the statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson who were both slaveholders? I don’t believe in excising history. The Dred Scott decision was clearly wrong, but at some point we need to move on and forgive. Justice Taney’s legacy should not rest solely on the Dred Scott decision.

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