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Francis Scott Key Monument splashed with red paint and spray painted with the words “Racist Anthem” Graffiti on Eutaw Place sculpture highlights Key's history as a slaveholder

This morning, we learned that the Francis Scott Key Monument at Eutaw Place was splashed with red paint over night and the stone pedestal at the center of the monument was spray painted with the words “Racist Anthem.” The monument by French sculptor Marius Jean Antonin Mercié shows Key standing in a marble rowboat next to a seated bronze sailor. The statue was dedicated on May 15, 1911, and restored in 1999 after a major fundraising campaign by local residents. You can see more photographs of the Key Monument and the graffiti in our Flickr album.

Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2017 September 13.

The spray painted graffiti on the east side of the stone curb surrounding the monument fountain included “Blood on his hands,” “Racist Anthem,” “Fuck FSK,” and “Hater U Just Mad.” On the pavement in front of the monument was written “Slave Owner” and one of the lesser-known stanzas that make up Key’s Star-Spangled Banner:

“No refuge could save, Hireling or slave,
From terror of flight, Or gloom of grave”

The words are a reference to the black men who escaped from slavery in Maryland and Virginia to join the British in their fight against the United States government during the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key’s legacy as a slave holder was the subject of a 2016 post from Smithsonian Magazine and a 2014 biography. As a member of the Maryland State Colonization Society, Key also promoted the removal of free black people from Maryland to a colony in present-day Liberia.

Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2017 September 13.

The Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks was notified about the condition of the monument early this morning and reached out to the Baltimore City Police Department, the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, and other city agencies to file a police report and consider next steps. We have also reached out to the Bolton Hill Architectural Review Committee to alert neighbors to the situation and to help monitor the monument. CHAP and city agencies are working to have the paint and graffiti removed by an art conservator as quickly as possible.

Read more about the Key Monument

Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2017 September 13.

Exploring Jewish Immigration: A Walking Tour in Bolton Hill and Reservoir Hill

Baltimore’s Jewish community arose through several distinct waves of immigration during the 19th and 20th centuries. There’s no better place to investigate this legacy than the Reservoir Hill/Bolton Hill district, where Jews from three different immigration waves intermingled in the years before World War II: “fresh off the boat” refugees from Nazism, Russian and Polish immigrants who arrived between the 1880s and 1920s, and descendants of Central European Jews who came in the mid-19th century. This walking tour will reveal surprising facets of Baltimore Jewish history by focusing on interactions within this diverse Jewish population. The tour, led by historian Deborah Weiner, will highlight the district’s synagogues as well as the homes of Jews who played a significant role in the Jewish community and in Baltimore more generally.

Read more

Public Hearing: Special Commission to Review Baltimore’s Public Confederate Monuments

On June 30, 2015, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced the creation of a special commission to review all of Baltimore’s Confederate statues and historical assets. Under the request, Mayor Rawlings-Blake directed the special commission to launch a conversation about each of the different Confederate-era monuments and other historical assets and make recommendations for their future in Baltimore.

On September 4, 2015, the appointees to the Commission were announced. Mayor Rawlings-Blake selected four members from the Baltimore City Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP), and three members from the Baltimore City Public Arts Commission. There will also be a Mayoral staff representative on the Commission.

Over the next six months, the commission will conduct a thorough review of Confederate monuments on City-owned property including gathering research and soliciting public testimony. Based on the findings, the commission will issue a series of recommendations to the Mayor for the future of the monuments. The recommendations might include, but are not limited to, preservation, new signage, relocation, or removal.

Currently, there are four Confederate monuments on City property that are to be reviewed by the commission. They are: Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument located on Mount Royal Avenue near Mosher Street; Confederate Women’s of Maryland, located at Bishop Square Park; Roger B. Taney Monument, located on Mt. Vernon Place in North Park; and Lee & Jackson Monument, located in Wyman Park Dell.

The Commission wants to hear from Baltimore City residents about these monuments. Comments can be submitted in several ways: via mail, email, in a public hearing, or through the email form on the commission website. Learn more about how to contact the Commission.