Thurgood Marshall statue to be erected in Annapolis

April 12, 1994|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Sun Staff Writer

An article in Tuesday's editions incorrectly stated the number of Marylanders who have served on the U.S. Supreme Court. There were five: Thomas Johnson (1791-1793); Samuel Chase (1796-1811); Gabriel Duvall (1811-1835); Roger Brooke Taney (1836-1864); and Thurgood Marshall (1967-1991).

The Sun regrets the error.

It is only a couple hundred yards from one side of Maryland's historic State House to the other, but lawmakers decided last night to make that short walk a measurement of the great distance blacks -- and the nation as a whole -- have come over the past 150 years.

Led by two influential black lawmakers, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Howard P. Rawlings and Senate Majority Leader Clarence W. Blount, the General Assembly agreed to spend $100,000 for a design competition for a statue of the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first black to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.


The Marshall statue is to be erected on the opposite side of the State House from that of Roger B. Taney, the only other Marylander to sit on the Supreme Court.

As a civil rights lawyer, Justice Marshall argued cases that led to the Supreme Court's 1954 ruling banning school segregation. Chief Justice Taney wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision that said slaves could not be freed by entering a free state, that Congress could not bar slavery in a territory and that blacks could not be citizens.

Mr. Rawlings said some black lawmakers wanted to tear down Justice Taney's statue on the southeast side of the State House and replace it with one of Justice Marshall but that "we thought we shouldn't engage in revisionist history."

Mr. Blount agreed, observing that the Dred Scott decision 137 years ago "expressed the will of society at that time."

"While we deplore the Dred Scott decision and the impact it had on the country and on African-American citizens, we ought to celebrate the life of Thurgood Marshall as an example of how far we have come as a state and a nation," Mr. Rawlings said.

The Marshall statue is to be erected on the northwest side on the State House, on Lawyer's Mall, which is a small plaza next to the Governor's Mansion and once was the site of the state's Court of Appeals building.

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