When Maryland House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones was elected last fall, one of her first acts in office was to call for the removal of a plaque commemorating the civil war from the Maryland State House. Jones’ effort was unsuccessful. Last week, however, the Maryland State House Trust voted to remove the plaque.
The Civil War Centennial Commission plaque was placed in the State House in 1964 to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the war. When the plaque was first installed, the centennial commission did not aim to determine who was right and who was wrong in the conflict. Accordingly, the plaque honors “those who fought and died, as well as the citizens who, during the civil war, tried to do their duty, as they saw it,” on both sides.
The plaque was originally adorned with an image of a Confederate flag crossed with the Maryland state flag. As a result of Jones’ appeal last fall, the State House Trust removed the confederate flag from the plaque, but refused to modify the text.
Jones renewed her calls for the plaque to be removed in the wake of weeks of protests throughout the country over police killing of Black people. Speaker Jones wrote, “The past two weeks have reignited our national conversation about the systemic racial injustice that continues throughout the United States of America. This plaque is not a symbol that belongs in our seat of government: the very place where Washington resigned his Commission to create our country; where we have passed monumental civil rights laws; and where we have stood together to work toward equality for every Marylander.”
Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore) voted with Jones to remove the plaque. Both Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford (R) and Laura Mears, chair of the Board of Trustees of the Maryland Historical Trust, expressed concerns about removing the plaque, but both ultimately sided with Jones and Ferguson.