EASTON, Md. — In 2011, a statue of abolitionist Frederick Douglass was erected at the courthouse in Talbot County Maryland. The monument stood as a historic counterweight to a nearby statue honoring local men who fought for the Confederacy that had stood for nearly a century.
Now, Maryland’s Comptroller Peter Franchot, who is running for governor, has called for the removal of the Confederate monument, known as the Talbot Boys, which went up in 1914 and features a figure holding a furled Confederate flag in bronze.
Franchot noted it was erected during a period well after the Civil War, which was marked by the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and a reassertion of white supremacy.
"The statue has nothing to do with praising the bravery of young soldiers,” Franchot said. “It has everything to do with being a blinking neon beacon to black people, brown people and minorities everywhere; ‘don’t come to this courthouse if you want equal justice under the law.'"
Franchot has launched a poll soliciting views on the Talbot Boys statue.
Eastern Shore Republican Congressman Andy Harris issued a statement in response:
"Instead of removing the Talbot Boys statue, which may only serve to divide the community, it should become the focus of an educational effort about the Civil War and slavery. This could be done through an accompanying interpretive display with opposing viewpoints and erecting an accompanying monument to the 400 Talbot County residents who fought against slavery for the Union."
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is calling for the removal of 11 Confederate figures in the Capitol’s statuary hall.
In a letter to the committee overseeing the Architect of the Capitol, Pelosi took particular aim at the statue of Alexander Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederacy who wrote the infamous “Corner-stone speech” describing the founding principles of the Confederacy.
"Its corner-stone rests upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition," Stephens wrote."
“Their statues pay homage to hate, not heritage,” Pelosi wrote.
University of Maryland History Professor Christopher Bonner said the debate is history in the making.
“We’re seeing many people who have thought of themselves as moderates, who feel comfortable now saying Black Lives Matter and saying ‘you know what? - we think we should rethink Confederate monuments.’" Bonner said. “I think that’s profound. I think this is a moment that has real potential to be a shift."