Last Wednesday, Congress gave final approval to legislation to remove the bust of former Chief Justice Roger Taney, who served from 1836 to 1864 and wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision, a legislation that claimed Black people weren’t citizens. Soon, his statue will be removed and replaced with Supreme Court’s first Black justice, Thurgood Marshall.
Capitol Officials have 45 days to remove the bust from the entrance of the Old Supreme Court Chamber then two years to obtain a statue of Justice Marshall as a replacement. “While the removal of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney’s bust from the Capitol does not relieve the Congress of the historical wrongs it committed to protecting the institution of slavery, it expressed Congress’ recognition of one of the most notorious wrongs to have ever taken place in one of its rooms, that of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney’s Dred Scott vs. Sandford decision,” the bill states.
Statues of Taney, who was a Maryland native, has been removed throughout the state. Maryland representative Rep. Steny Hoyer, who played a part in this effort, stated, “Taney's ruling denied Black Americans citizenship, upheld slavery, and contributed, frankly, to the outbreak of the Civil War. That’s why I and so many others advocated for his statue’s removal from the Maryland State House. For Black Americans who have grown up in segregation, face racial violence, and still confront institutional racism today, seeing figures like Taney honored here is a searing reminder that the past is present. It need not be, however, our future.”
The fight isn’t over, but it’s a step in the right direction!
Photo: TMCF/ AP