Support is growing on a four-member panel to remove a plaque from Maryland’s Capitol that honors the Civil War’s Union and Confederate soldiers from the state and once showed a Confederate flag that has been covered over.
House Speaker Adrienne Jones renewed her push to have the plaque removed in a letter Thursday. Last year, a four-member panel that oversees the Capitol and its grounds voted to cover a logo from the sign showing the U.S. and Confederate flags crossed. It was covered with an image of the Maryland state flag, but the sign remained after a 3-1 vote.
Jones, who is Maryland's first black House speaker, wrote that the plaque “is not a symbol that belongs in our seat of government.”
“The language of this plaque still remains which sympathizes with the Confederacy,” Jones wrote. “The past two weeks have reignited our national conversation about the systemic racial injustice that continues throughout the United States of America."
The death of George Floyd in Minnesota last month after a police officer pressed a knee on his neck until after he stopped breathing have prompted protests in cities across the country.
Senate President Bill Ferguson, who became Senate president in January, is supporting Jones' proposal to remove the plaque.
“Thank you for this timely, and necessary proposal," Ferguson wrote in an email. "I thank the Speaker for her leadership on this issue and vote in support of the removal of this plaque.”
Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford wrote Friday he would support removing the plaque, if it is replaced with one reflecting Maryland’s history in the Civil War. The lieutenant governor wrote he wants to “make sure visitors to the State House understand that Maryland was a slave state."
"The Maryland State House is a living museum that must reflect the truth of our past in order to remind visitors how far we have come and how much further we need to go,” Rutherford wrote.
Alexandra Hughes, the speaker's chief of staff, said Jones does not believe a replacement plaque is needed.
“She continues to press the State House Trust for complete removal,” Hughes said Friday.
Laura Mears, the chair of the Maryland Historical Trust who is the fourth member of the State House Trust, could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.
The plaque was dedicated in 1964 by the Maryland Civil War Centennial Commission to remember the nearly 63,000 Marylanders who served in the Union and more than 22,000 in the Confederacy. It is on the wall on the first floor of the State House in the Capitol rotunda.
The sign says in part that the commission “did not attempt to decide who was right and who was wrong, or to make decisions on other controversial issues.”
“By so doing it seeks to pay tribute to those who fought and died, as well as to the citizens who, during the Civil War, tried to do their duty as they saw it,” the plaque reads.