March 30, 2011 by EVE · Comments Off
Published on March 30, 2011, in the Afro-American Newspapers:
A heavily amended bill to place a statue of Harriet Tubman in the Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol was passed unanimously on March 28 by the Maryland Senate. “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,” said Equal Visibility Everywhere (EVE) President Lynette Long in a statement. “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 original bill was meant to replace the statue of John Hanson with one of Tubman, as states only get two statues in the crowded hall. The amended bill asks for an exception, allowing Maryland to place a third statue in the hall; an honor not given to any other state thus far.
Opposition of the original bill came from Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, D.-Dist. 27. Miller told Capital News Service he would like to honor Tubman, but doesn’t want to remove the statue of Hanson, who Miller considers an important figure in the history of the United States, as he served as president of the Continental Congress in 1781.
A book published in 1932, John Hanson: Our First President, gives credence to Miller’s argument, but many historians argue the validity of that. Many say the position was generally a ceremonial one with no real authority.
EVE, the sponsor of the bill, is angry as it believes the state of Maryland is missing out on the opportunity to be trailblazers by having the first African-American woman honored in the Statuary Hall.
“Harriet Tubman, an African-American woman from Maryland, was one of the most courageous and inspiring individuals in our nation’s history,” Long continued. “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.”
Bill sponsor Del. Susan Lee, D.-Dist. 16, told the Baltimore Sun that Hanson has “monumental supporters” and that she may have to revisit this issue in 2012.