White supremacy vs. Civil Rights icon at Md. state house

Violence in Charlottesville again puts the spotlight on the issue of confederate monuments.

ANNAPOLIS, MD (WUSA9) - Annapolis, Md. has tried an uncomfortable balancing act to keep a monument to an icon of white supremacy standing on the grounds of the State House for going on 21-years.

A statue of U.S. Supreme Court justice Roger B. Taney has stood at the State house since 1888, despite several robust efforts to remove it. 

Taney was the author of the 1857 Dred Scott decision which declared African Americans "inferior" and not protected by any Constitutional rights. The decision helped propel the US toward the Civil War.

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The monument to Taney is balanced by a grander monument on the opposite side of the State House dedicated to the first African-American supreme court justice. 

Justice Thurgood Marshall an icon of American Civil Rights who led the way to ending school segregation. 

The 1996 installation of the Marshall monument was part of a compromise that allowed the Taney statue to remain, on the theory that erasing history eliminates an opportunity to reflect on the wrongs of the past.

Both supreme court justices were Marylanders.

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But the compromise is being tested. The most recent attempt to remove Taney occurred in 2016. A bill in the legislature to remove the statue failed.

Many visitors to the State House are unaware of Taney's history. In the wake of violence in Charlottesville involving white supremacists defending a confederate monument, some said Taney's likeness should be removed.

Meanwhile, there are efforts to removed other monuments to Taney in Frederick, Md. and in Baltimore.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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