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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.

Understanding Monuments and an Empty Plinth: Talking about public art and history at Mount Vernon Place

Join us this Sunday afternoon for an hour-long walk and discussion about the history of the now absent Taney Monument and other monuments around Mount Vernon Place. Why are these statues here? This short tour is an opportunity for residents to learn about the history of the statues, ask questions about the people they depict, and reflect on how they see the monuments today.

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The words "Everyday Utopias" above a photo of the ladder at the edge of the former Pool No. 2 (now filled in and covered with grass)

Closing Reception! Everyday Utopias: Druid Hill Park Exhibition Exhumes the Promises of a Once-Segregated Pool

Come out for the closing reception of Everyday Utopias at Pool No. 2 in Druid Hill Park! The reception features a performance by Fluid Movement at 5:00 pm; an artist talk and poolside discussion at 6:00 pm and a film projection of photos from Henry Phillips, Sr. narrated by Irv Phillips, Jr. beginning at 7:45 pm.

Pool No. 2 (1921-1956) operated as a segregated pool in the historically black section of Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park. From the initial campaign to construct the city’s first public pool for black people to the resolute activism that led to its eventual closure, Pool No. 2 reflects the quotidian pragmatism of an “everyday utopia”—a term coined specifically to define those creative practices that we engage in daily to find new and better ways to improve our lives and the world around us.

Everyday Utopias invites viewers to consider the promise of both real and imagined aspects of civic participation as they navigate their way through physical structures and spiritual spaces of the pool’s remains. Pool No.2 was a local flashpoint for the discourse on race that was happening nationally in American society during the mid-1950s and is a physical reminder that the failures and struggles of our efforts at civic repair are just as important as the successes.

Sheena M. Morrison, MFA Candidate in MICA’s Curatorial Practice Program, brings together eleven contemporary artists who respond to the palpable history of Pool No. 2 with imaginative wit, humor, and compassion. Artists in the exhibition: Billy Colbert, Sutton Demlong, Andrew Keiper, Fluid Movement, Tiffany Jones, Lauren R. Lyde, Antonio McAfee, Kameelah Rasheed, Edward-Victor Sanchez, Michael Trueblood and MacArthur Genius Fellow Joyce J. Scott.

The words "Everyday Utopias" above a photo of the ladder at the edge of the former Pool No. 2 (now filled in and covered with grass)

Everyday Utopias: Druid Hill Park Exhibition Exhumes the Promises of a Once-Segregated Pool

Please join Maryland Institute College of Art’s (MICA) MFA program in Curatorial Practice and Baltimore City Recreation and Parks for the opening reception of Everyday Utopias, a public art installation at Pool No. 2 in Druid Hill Park. Everyday Utopias invites viewers to consider the promise of both real and imagined aspects of civic participation as they navigate their way through physical structures and spiritual spaces of the pool’s remains.

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Join the conversation about Baltimore’s Confederate Monuments Learn more about the history of the monuments and how you can submit comments

Courtesy Baltimore Commission to Review Baltimore’s Public Confederate Monuments.
Lee-Jackson Monument, 2015. Baltimore Commission to Review Baltimore’s Public Confederate Monuments.

Thank you to everyone who came out and joined our tour of Baltimore’s Confederate Monuments at Wyman Park Dell this past weekend. As I explained in my testimony before the Special Commission reviewing the city’s Confederate monuments on October 29, Baltimore Heritage supports the review process and is working educate the public about the history of the monuments. Our organization has not made any formal recommendation for what we think the commission should do about the monument. We think it is important for everyone with an interest in this issue to learn more and to add their voice to the ongoing discussion. To support this goal, we have put together a set of educational resources to help you prepare your comments or testimony.

What is the history of the monuments?

Confederate Monument, Mount Royal Terrace (c. 1906). Library of Congress
Confederate Monument, Mount Royal Terrace (c. 1906). Library of Congress

In September, Baltimore Heritage has published a detailed study on the history of the monuments with a particular focus on how race and politics shaped their meaning in the past and present. We also published our testimony from October 29 and our full tour notes from the December 5 walking tour. If you have any questions or suggestions, please let us know—we plan on continuing to revise and expand these materials in the months ahead. Additional profiles on the four monuments under review are available from the Special Commission.

Where are the monuments located?

We have also put together a map showing the four monuments selected for review and the broader collection of monuments, statues and historic sites related to the theme of Civil War memory and the Lost Cause.

What do the monuments look like?

Detail, Confederate Soldiers and Sailors MonumentThe staff of the Commission has shared their extensive photo documentation of all four monuments and we have uploaded these photographs to an album on Flickr so anyone can get a close look at the monuments from the general surroundings to the smallest details.

How do I send comments?

There are three ways to share your comments: send a letter by mail, send an email, or attend the public hearing on December 15. Please note that your comments become part of the public record and may be shared by the Commission as part of the process.

  1. To submit comments by email contact monuments.review@baltimorecity.gov or use the online contact form.
  2. To submit comments by mail, send a letter to the Commission to Review Baltimore’s Public Confederate Monuments c/o Eric Holcomb, 417 E. Fayette St. 8th floor, Baltimore, MD 21202.
  3. To testify at the public hearing on December 15, you should prepare your testimony in advance, sign-up before the meeting, and bring a printed copy of your testimony for the Commission. Find additional details about the public hearing on our calendar.

How do I prepare effective testimony?

For anyone interested in testifying at the meeting on December 15, we have six quick tips for making the most of your testimony:

  1. Introduce yourself
  2. Lead with your key message
  3. Make it personal
  4. Stick to the facts
  5. Keep it short
  6. Say thank you

Check out our expanded version of this guide including links to more related resources. The Special Commission has details about the process of signing up to testify and what to expect in their guide (PDF).

For questions about this issue, please feel free to contact me at pousson@baltimoreheritage.org or contact our director Johns Hopkins at 410-332-9992.