March 28, 2011 by EVE · Comments Off
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Last Thursday a Maryland Senate committee approved an amendment that effectively guts the bill to place a statue of Harriet Tubman in National Statuary Hall.
The original bill (Senate Bill 351) calls for Maryland’s existing statue of John Hanson to be replaced with one of Harriet Tubman. The new amendment almost completely rewrites the bill, asking Congress instead to give Maryland special permission to place three statues, with the Tubman statue as the third addition.
“But we already know the answer to that,” says Suzanne Scoggins of EVE (Equal Visibility Everywhere), which sponsored the original legislation. “The answer is no. Each state is allowed two statues. The rules for Statuary Hall are precise and carefully formulated. There are 100 statues in the collection—two from each state—and the Capitol barely has room for all of them as it is. If you want to change a statue, you bring one home and send the new one in its place. There is absolutely no reason to expect that Congress will make a special exception for Maryland and allow them to have three statues. The supporters of the amendment are calling it a ‘compromise,’ but it’s not a compromise. Maryland isn’t going to be allowed to have three statues, and they know it. The effect of the amendment is to kill the Harriet Tubman statue.”
In an statement, EVE President Lynette Long said:
Maryland had a unique opportunity to replace a slaveholder with a slave, a white man with a Black woman, a colonial figure with a Civil War figure. They have squandered that opportunity. Instead, they’ve chosen to petition Congress for something they know they won’t get, in a transparent attempt to pass the buck to the federal government.
The population of Maryland is 29% African-American and 51% female. Harriet Tubman, an African-American woman from Maryland, was one of the most courageous and inspiring individuals in our nation’s history. She was truly one of the all-time great American heroes, one of a handful of names that every schoolchild in this country knows. It is only right that she should be one of the two individuals representing Maryland in National Statuary Hall. Yet a small group of white male legislators has derailed the entire project.
Leading the opposition is Maryland Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, Jr., a 68-year-old Democrat who has been a member of the Maryland Senate since 1975. He is joined by two other long-standing Democrats, Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton (a member of the Senate since 1995 and a relative of John Hanson) and Senator Roy Dyson, also a member of the Senate since 1995.
These gentlemen apparently believe that Maryland is best represented in Statuary Hall by an all-male, all-white contingent. Rather than honor Harriet Tubman, they prefer to keep the statues of Charles Carroll and John Hanson that have been in place since 1903. Charles Carroll was the largest slaveholder in the American colonies, and John Hanson was a minor figure who served a one-year term presiding over the Continental Congress.
What is especially disturbing is that on February 16, 2011, the Southern Maryland News reported Senator Miller as proposing that “a special category should be established in Statuary Hall for women and blacks who were not considered when states first were invited to contribute statues in 1864.” This smacks of separate but equal. It’s a sexist and racist statement that ignores the fact that women and Blacks have made contributions throughout history that have been ignored.
Read more posts in Statuary Hall Project Updates