Viewpoints

The Talbot Boys, Revisited

7/21/20
By: Richard Calkins

I remember writing this in June 2015 in the aftermath of the Charleston massacre:

“Resting on the south lawn of the Talbot County Courthouse is a Confederate memorial to the “Talbot Boys”, which was placed in this spot in June 1916.  The monument, which depicts a soldier draped in, and hoisting a Confederate flag, stands to the south of the Frederick Douglas memorial, an individual whom the Talbot boys fought to enslave.

This same flag was displayed in images of the racist murderer, Dylann Roof, and as a result several Southern states and politicians have already ordered its removal after the terrible hate crime in Charleston.  The flag represents the white supremacy that fueled slave ownership.  The Talbot Boys were part of secessionist movement that can only be described as treasonous, a treason based on the South’s economic driver, holding other humans in bondage.  It is a symbol of the denial of basic civil rights, and it is embarrassing and hurtful to all who live in Talbot County.

And yet it remains in front of the Easton Courthouse, hoisting the Confederate flag.  Organizations such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans, prevalent in Maryland, would claim that this is part of our “heritage.”  But this is a racist heritage based on an America most of us have little interest in, and which Talbot County citizens should reject.”

Ultimately, The Freedom of Information Act unearthed some of the mendacious information the then all Republican County Council was privy to, and only after their violation of the Open Meetings Act did they hold an open meeting, voting 5-0 to leave the Talbot Boys in place.

Fast forward to June, 2020.  The murder of George Floyd has had a profound effect on America.  Protests have been worldwide, and condemnation of the systemic racism in our society has been both multiracial and bipartisan.  Talbot County has seen two protests, along Marlboro Avenue and at the Courthouse, drawing largely white, bipartisan crowds outraged by the George Floyd murder.  As a result, attention has once again turned to the Talbot Boys, still standing and remaining a symbol of what divides us as citizens. 

Enter Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, who enjoys wide bipartisan support on the Eastern Shore, has called in several interviews for the removal of the Talbot Boys.  Corey Pack, President of the Talbot County Council, has said recently that he would support removal of the statue.  These are pivotal moments in the fight to remove this abomination from its prominent spot on the Courthouse lawn, and one would hope that the remainder of current Council will listen to Franchot and Pack calling for removal.  We hope, in light of the removal of Confederate monuments all over the country in the last four years, that the two council members who voted against removal before (Chuck Callahan and Laura Price) will follow the lead of Corey Pack, who also voted against removal in 2015 and has changed his mind, and will do what is right for the citizens of Talbot County.

Richard Calkins is a member of the Talbot County Democratic Forum.  He writes from Tilghman.

 

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