With 3 Months Left in Office, Rawlings-Blake Still Considering Action on Confederate Monuments

Yvonne Wenger and Luke Broadwater, Baltimore Sun, September 14, 2016

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced a “short-term” solution Wednesday to dealing with Baltimore’s Confederate monuments: installing “interpretive signage” to add historical context while she considers what to do next.

The move gives her less than three months before she leaves office to decide what to do with the four monuments that stand on city property.

A commission appointed by Rawlings-Blake last year to study the monuments recommended in January that two be removed.

“I don’t think any of the commission members were interested in erasing or rewriting history,” Rawlings-Blake said. “But we certainly should work to interpret for today’s context.”

The memorials include the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Mount Royal Avenue, the Confederate Women’s Monument on West University Parkway, the Roger B. Taney Monument on Mount Vernon Place, and the Robert E. Lee and Thomas. J. “Stonewall” Jackson Monument in the Wyman Park Dell.

The commission recommended getting rid of the Taney statue and the tribute to Lee and Jackson. It recommended altering the other two monuments to include etchings with historical details.

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Rawlings-Blake called adding signs a “practical solution to a complicated issue.”

She said she must consider the city’s fiscal constraints.

“There’s a vote to remove it, and then there’s the ability to remove it,” she said. “You need the funds and you need the relocation.

“Everyone can say, ‘You should remove them all and put them in one big Confederate monument park,’ but who’s paying for it?”

The commission recommended the Lee and Jackson statue be offered to the National Park Service to place in Chancellorsville, Va., where the two Confederate generals last met in 1863.

The commission called for the Taney statue to be discarded. Taney, the Marylander who served as the fifth chief justice of the United States, wrote the notorious Dred Scott decision, which held African-Americans could not be U.S. citizens.

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