By Diane Bernard, Maryland News Connection
EASTON, Md. — President Joe Biden just signed a law creating a federal holiday for Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in Texas. Eastern Shore Marylanders are observing the holiday Saturday with a rally to remove the last Confederate statue in the state. Groups, including the Talbot County NAACP, have been trying since 2005 to get lawmakers to take down the Talbot Boys monument from the county’s courthouse lawn.
Groups, including the Talbot County NAACP, have been trying since 2005 to get lawmakers to take down the Talbot Boys monument from the county’s courthouse lawn.
Ridgely Ochs, communications director of the Move the Monument Coalition, said a courthouse statue of a soldier holding a Confederate flag undermines the message all are equal under law. She noted holding the protest on Juneteenth is symbolic of a struggle for racial justice that still continues.
“Juneteenth is celebrated as part of the journey towards greater freedom and equality,” Ochs pointed out. “And we felt that doing this march and rally is part of that tradition, part of that journey towards greater equality and justice.”
Last August, the Talbot County Council rejected a proposal to take away the monument in a three-to-two vote. Maryland’s ACLU and NAACP chapters filed a federal lawsuit last month demanding the statue’s removal, citing precedents in other states among its objections.
At a town hall held earlier this week to draw attention to tomorrow’s rally, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., called on the Talbot County Council to do the right thing and get rid of the monument. He pointed to Charlottesville, Virginia’s unanimous vote last week to remove its statue of Robert E. Lee, as an example of the pressing need to confront our past to move forward.
“It’s time for Talbot County, it’s time for Easton to remove this monument in front of the courthouse,” Van Hollen urged. “A monument that doesn’t celebrate justice for all, but one that glorifies the Confederacy and those who fought to protect slavery.”
Tomorrow’s rally will feature the singing of a proposed new state song written by Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md. This year, the General Assembly repealed the former state song, sung to the tune of “O Tannenbaum.” Written in 1861, it referred to Abraham Lincoln as a “tyrant” and urges Maryland to secede from the Union, which it did not.
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