Brainless act of racism

Anne Arundel: Independence Day vandalism of Aris T. Allen statue was hateful and ignorant.

July 07, 2000

RACISTS CAN'T tarnish Aris T. Allen's legacy. Sure, they can ignorantly place a pillowcase over his statue's head, but they can't cloak the enlightenment he brought. They can tape Confederate battle flags to the image's hands on Independence Day, but they can't touch what the late African-American legislator stood for -- racial equality and tolerance.

Allen bridged racial divisions while serving in the state legislature over four decades. Nine years after his death, he remains a towering symbol of our attempts to triumph over mindless hate. No act of vandalism will change that.

Aris T. Allen was one of Annapolis' first black physicians and Maryland's first black candidate for statewide office. He was also a Republican, a compassionate one.

When a white segregationist colleague collapsed from a heart attack on the House of Delegates' floor, Allen saved his life. The segregationist cast aside his racist ideas to build a lifelong friendship with Allen.

Allen also won friends across political divides, gaining the respect, for example, of former Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who was still a staunch Democrat when Allen died in 1991.

Now, some racist thugs seem to think they can erase Allen's important role in the history of Annapolis, Anne Arundel County and Maryland by placing a pillowcase over his statue's head and taping Confederate battle flags to the hands. That's ludicrous.

We have seen too many acts of racial hatred and bigotry recently in Anne Arundel County, including the racist death threat mailed to the county's school superintendent and racism at Southern High School.

The offenders who disturbed the Allen statue should be sought, arrested and sentenced. They should be charged with vandalism, hate crimes and felonious acts of imbecility.

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