Editorial: A monument to Harriet Tubman is what Baltimore needs

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD | February 15, 2018

Last August, Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh announced her decision to remove the Lee-Jackson monument in the Wyman Park Dell. The monument, built in 1948 — 83 years after the Civil War — celebrated Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, who both fought on the Confederate side of the Civil War.

Pugh made this decision following the disturbing white nationionalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. which also served as a protest to keep Charlottesville’s Confederate monuments.

In a decisive move, Pugh hired a contractor to remove all four of Baltimore’s Confederate monuments, making a statement that our City will not tolerate representations of white supremacy. These pedestals have stood empty for six months.

Earlier this month, the City Council gave preliminary approval to rededicate the Lee-Jackson monument as a tribute to Harriet Tubman, an abolitionist who worked as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad. Tubman was born into slavery in Maryland, but she escaped and risked her life to lead her family and over 300 other slaves to freedom.

Over these past six months, community members have been weighing in on what should take the monument’s place. Some suggestions from the public included leaving the pedestal empty or creating a memorial to honor the rich yet complicated history of abolitionism in the United States.

We believe that the choice of rededicating the space to Harriet Tubman, a black woman who sacrificed so much for the freedom of others, is the right decision.

Almost all Confederate monuments were built after the Civil War as a way to recall the racist and shameful institution of slavery in our country’s history.

The City currently plans on holding a rededication ceremony on March 10. While we do not know what form the new monument will take, we commend the City for taking this important step.

The pedestal has sat empty for too long, and with the candidate for rededication finalized, it is now time to plan for a new memorial. We look forward to having a symbol in our neighborhood which we can all take pride in.

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