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Muse Calls Out Fellow Senator for Defending Pro-Slavery Judge

Maryland state Sen. C. Anthony Muse seeks to censure colleague and Senate President Thomas “Mike” Miller for his defense of a 19th-century Supreme Court justice who ruled to uphold slavery and deny blacks equal rights.

Miller drew Muse’s ire by writing a letter Thursday to Gov. Larry Hogan defending Justice Roger B. Taney’s “complex history” after members of the State House Trust voted Aug. 16 to remove Taney’s statue from in front of the State House in Annapolis. A crane moved the statue to a storage facility early Friday morning.

But Muse (D-District 26) said Wednesday, Aug. 23 that Miller’s words are similar to those echoed by President Donald Trump.

“As the president of the Senate, either real or perceived, [Miller] speaks for the Senate,” Muse said. “His defense of Roger Taney was absolutely appalling and it was disrespectful to all of the progress we have made as a nation.”

Muse said a call to censure Miller would allow all senators to vote on whether they agree with Miller’s words. He plans to present legislation when the Maryland General Assembly resumes in January to also request any statues of those who exhibited racists tendencies be removed off state property and placed in a museum for educational purposes.

“Not a place where every single day people of all races and all walks of life must come down to that state house and see” the statue, Muse said.

Muse said he requested debate in 2015 on proposed legislation to remove the statue, but it didn’t move out of a committee onto the Senate floor for a vote.

“This will be handled in the upcoming session and before hearings and come up for a vote,” he said. “At that point, we can send a message that … we do not agree that the president of the Senate should repeat the kinds of defense of such a person whose actions are hurtful to African-Americans and others.”

Miller, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon, argued that Taney served “with distinction” in several offices, including as a U.S. Supreme Court justice from 1836 until his death in 1864. The letter outlines how historians, authors and newspaper editorials noted Taney’s life becomes a part of American history and cannot be hidden.

“A full discussion of each of our reasons for supporting either the removal or retention of the statue … would have added to the public conversation and understanding,” Miller said in the letter.

Muse said he requested debate in 2015 on proposed legislation to remove the statue, but it didn’t move out of a committee onto the Senate floor for a vote.

“This will be handled in the upcoming session and before hearings and come up for a vote,” he said. “At that point, we can send a message that … we do not agree that the president of the Senate should repeat the kinds of defense of such a person whose actions are hurtful to African-Americans and others.”

Meanwhile, a group of clergy and civil rights activist held a rally Monday, Aug. 28 near Miller’s office in Clinton to protest Miller’s letter. The group, according to a press release, agrees with Muse that Miller should be censured for his comments.

Del. Angela Angel (D-District 25) of Upper Marlboro said the removal of controversial statues aren’t new.

“Black people have been talking about these monuments being offensive for years,” she said. “It’s interesting now how folks that are non-black are so offended and it’s becoming more of a thing. [As] Black people, we are often so busy dealing with every day results of oppression. We are so busy just treading water.”

Angel said her current focus is finding 300 men to greet students at 30 Prince George’s County schools for opening day on Wednesday, Sept. 6.

“I remember when those kids got off those buses [last year] and what their faces were like to have a row of men greeting them,” she said. “So that’s my priority.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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