The bronze bust of an iconic “pro-slavery” figure with ties to Frederick could be removed from its post outside Frederick City Hall under a proposal from Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak.

Kuzemchak detailed Thursday a plan to relocate the bust of Roger Brooke Taney from outside City Hall to a museum or other location.

The fifth chief justice of the United States is best known for writing the court’s opinion in the landmark 1857 Dred Scott decision, which prevented African-Americans from suing federal court on the grounds that they had no rights as American citizens.

Kuzemchak characterized the decision as one of the most reviled in history and Taney’s opinion “the most extreme pro-slavery position.” She framed the bust’s removal as an attempt not to rewrite history, but to correct it, at least in terms of the statue’s presence at City Hall.

The bronze bust was built and placed in front of the building in 1931; at the time, the building was used as the Frederick County Courthouse. The statue’s presence was not reconsidered after the building became City Hall in 1986.

“The city has never made an affirmative decision to place the bust in front of City Hall,” Kuzemchak said.

She also noted that though Taney began his political career as a lawyer operating in the city of Frederick, he was not a Frederick resident by the time he became chief justice.

‘Frederick’s Confederate flag’

The proposal drew support from several city residents who attended the meeting.

Roger Wilson, the government affairs and public policy director for Frederick County, described it as a “step forward,” while resident Peter Samuel congratulated Kzuemchak on an action long overdue.

Samuel said Taney’s values directly conflict with the spirit and values of Frederick, both 150 years ago and today.

“Our hero was Barbara Fritchie, who defied the Confederates,” he said. “This man was an extreme Confederate and slavery supporter.”

Willie Mahone, a Frederick lawyer, likened the bust to hate speech.

“It does not bespeak well for the Frederick city government to have that hate speech sitting outside City Hall,” Mahone said. “This is Fred city’s Confederate flag.”

Mahone named the Roger Brooke Taney House, a Frederick County historic site intended to re-create the life and times of Taney and his family during his time as a Frederick attorney, as a more suitable home for the bust.

“Put it somewhere where antiquated, passé ideals ... exist,” he said.

Alderman Josh Bokee also said he supported the bust’s removal, but wanted to continue discussion on the proposal at a future city workshop.

The proposal will be presented at a public hearing, with more opportunity for comment from community members, before the aldermen vote to approve or reject the change.

Follow Nancy Lavin on Twitter: @Nancy_Lavin228.

Nancy Lavin covers social services, demographics and religion for The Frederick News-Post.

(62) comments


Special needs children are a result of bad choices?


One of the highest ways to glorify an individual is to have an entire town named after them. You can't have it both ways when you decide to remove from sight, something you do not like, believe in or have issue with. If you believe that Taney should be removed than everything must go. How is it that you only select one item. An entire town is and will always be a reminder of a past Chief Justice, but regardless, according to your statements, why then not propose the town's name change?
My position on Taney, or any other past individual who lived in different times than now, is to learn from the past, understand the decisions made by those who came before us and change what needs to be changed. Isn't that what we do everyday? My father, an Italian immigrant was wronged and shamed and humiliated and looked down upon when it was a time during our history where we were not accepting of difference.
Why are you not fighting to remove the Jefferson Memorial? (slave owner) or any other structure that can be linked to something that we felt was very wrong from our past? Why select this one item? You can't have it both ways.
If you could use the same time and money being spent on this topic and go to one school a week, talk to our children about the bad decisions of the past, how change was made as a result and to teach them. Teach them to remember that when they walk by Taney, or the Jefferson Memorial, or the Holocaust Museum or Washington Monument, or any individuals, great and not so great, to see what was wrong, think about what they should have done and maybe one day they will be the individual making a difference in someone's life.
What lesson are you teaching our children by hiding Taney? OK kids, if you ever make any bad decisions in life, don't deal with it head on, don't try to be reminded of those bad choices so you don't make them again, just put them someplace where you don't have to see it or deal with it.
For those of you who grew up in the 50's, 60's, 70's, that is exactly what we did to any human being who was not "normal". You never saw a Downs child, a handicapped child, a child with any feature that was different than yours. You never saw people with brain issues, or missing limbs. Why?
Because, they were all Taney busts, hidden away, not to be reminded of bad choices that were made at a time in our country when we did not realize yet how very much we all could learn from these very special people. How many of our lives have been changed by the smile of a Downs child. And the special laugh they always seem to have.

We learned. We were educated. We changed.


Donna spends way too much time on things of little consequence. She needs to focus on important matters. I am not approving of her actions as an Alderman anymore. And Bokee is so busy pandering to the voters that he doesn't know what he is doing or what he stands for. Everytime a decision needs to be made, he asks that it go to workshop. He really is a bit of a coward. Jean


is history even taught in our schools now a days


Not much....ever since the Bush administration's "No Child Left Untested" law, teachers and schools teach to the test. If it's not on the test, there's no time devoted to it. It's all science, technology, engineering, and math.

In a few years, we'll have a bunch of educated and tested idiots who won't know how to think for themselves running things.


Remove both the Taney monument from City Hall, and the rebel flag frog Mt. Olivet!!!!




Maybe we should have the marriage of Taney to Francis Scott Key's sister annulled while we are at it. Wouldn't want any of that Taney stink to rub off on our favorite son.


Uh oh...that means we better remove the FSK monument at Mt Olivet then. Can't have anything bad out there!


Instead of removing it, add a plaque or something to explain what it is, when it was placed there, etc. Educate about our past, no matter how wrong it may have been. Are we going to go through the battlefield and remove every confederate monument?


I agree that the past should not be erased. We should know our history, the good and the bad. Putting an explanation with this monument would be a "teachable moment."


They tried that already. The plaque is there. Have a look.


Then I don't see a problem. Things that we think are okay today, will be criminal in our future. That doesn't mean that our future family members shouldn't be able to learn about it.


how ridiculous it really is with todays society that minority rules. someone gets on their high horse and then our elected officials cave in for which all they are looking for is to get elected or relected. all of this stuff about roger b taney and the confereate flag is part of our history.yea things have happened and there is no need to get on a kick and ban everything that happened in the past.


I sympathize with your view that too often a small minority gets their way. I'm with you. But on this no one has "ruled." Ald Kuzemchak introduced a resolution and spoke to it. Ald Bokee expressed support, and so did three citizens (me being one.) But there was no vote. They are proposing a workshop and public hearing first. Also I haven't heard anyone wanting to "ban" a Taney memorial let alone everything that happened in the past. The front of City Hall should memorialize the great people of Frederick, like Thomas Johnson (the patriot and founding father whose bust stands alongside Taney's) but also people like Daniel Dulany who founded Frederick, bought the land, planned its street network subdivided lots etc... Taney was raised in slave tobacco country on the Patuxent River, came here only at 23 and left after 20-odd years to go to DC for the second half of his life. He rose to notoriety there. He is much more a native of Calvert Co and DC than of Frederick.


Donna Kuzemchak is right on this one. I say that as a conservative who probably wouldn’t agree with her on many other issues. Taney’s memorial (his sculpted head or bust plus the Dred Scott plaque) should be removed from the front of City Hall because its position and prominence there suggests to every visitor that the City honors Taney and his Dred Scott ruling. We don’t honor them. Frederick never did. The memorial is a lie.

To remove the Taney memorial from in front of City Hall is to remove a misrepresentation of history and of the present. Taney certainly is an important historical figure. The Taney memorial is worthy of public display - at his gravesite, his historic home, in a museum, a library or park.


But, what has changed since Taney's decision and the Dread Scott ruling, in Frederick or Frederick County?

Look around, for as many decades as you want, to today, and see where black America is found in any leadership role other than by TOKEN appontment, in Frederick or Frederick County or any other white community that claims the likes of ENGLISH ONLY as the only language that can be spoken in Frederick County.

Is Kuzemchak and Bokee just following suit with Delegate Karen Young and changing the lyrics of the State song, "Maryland My Maryland?"

Has the Nation changed any more so than when Taney was Chief Justice, to current 1965 civil rights legislation and today's riots in Baltimore City? Taking the statue away from City Hall accomplishes what? Certainly a change in the landscape but to what end? WE haven't changed. We may have evolved but what's so different now than it was yesterday or 150 years ago?

So, who's lying to whom now, other than elected officials who want to distract US away from what WAS and is still the same today. How many black Frederick citizens serve in a government leadership role TODAY?

We can spin this notion or correcting the decisions of the past, but WE remain the same as dictated by the Supreme Court of yesterday, as the current Supreme Court has today, when they decided that the black vs white SITUATION has changed for the better when it has not.

Aren't there a couple of monuments at the Supreme Court that Frederick and Frederick County would opt to switch out for a different version of history and the LIE that Kuzemchak and Bokee want to perpetuate under an illusion, that if the past reminders of yesterday are removed, would make US any different than we are TODAY?

The same predjudice of yesterday are just as relevant as they are TODAY. Remove anything you want from sight, but the predjudice and bigotry of man kind remains the same...whether you're black or white.

We can hide all the statues we want, or change the lyrics of the State song, but WE haven't changed from our white or black ROOTS. Leave it to politicians to say otherwise.


Mav7, Cynicism is a way of not changing and living without hope or ideals. You state Truism but with a jaundiced eye toward humanity. I would hate to be you.
Glass completely empty.


I'm reminded every day by news headlines, news media, personal and professional exposures that HUMANITY has been dealing with, for its entire life, to the platitudes of hope and ideals of those that SPEAK ONLY AT our existence, instead of dealing with the REAL world.most have rejected, like yourself, so as not to be held accountable while lounging in your self righteous comfort zone and REALLY doing nothing about CHANGING humanity other than embracing the status quo and the corruption that grows and surrounds it by our human nature, that hasn't changed

The jaundiced eye you refer to is called SKEPTICISM. My eyesight remains 20/20 while you prefer to keep your eyes closed to REALITY, and the cynical nature of my syntax.

If my glass weren't FULL why would we be having this exchange in the first place. Face it, YOU will never be another me or want to be.

Hope and ideals are nothing more than emotional blank pages that we use to disguise what we REALLY are all about and most afraid of; CHANGE. You are as much about the lies we tell ourselves and told to US daily, so as to stand far from the reality of humanity and pretend the choices you have made in your lifetime are an example of HOPE and IDEALS that man has cast down to the bottom of the barrel and handed over to corrupt governance, practiced in the art of constant DISTRACTIONS and DECEPTIONS we continue to buy on any market place of your choice, such as the one we are currently involved with and another attempt to misrepresent what we were and still are, to this day.


We can't re-write history but we can learn from it. When this madness stop of removing this or that stop!

richard hall

Why you at it,go to the court house and take that one down also.

richard hall

As the flag issue in south Carolina, it belongs in a museum. They knew the history behind that statue. Take it down frederick


And this is the way history repeats itself. Do not remove all evidence of things past, but rather teach our children what happened, why it happened and for it never to happen again. In Germany today, rather than forget about that monster Hitler, tour guides are telling everyone how horrible his regime was. You can hear the disgust in their voices when speaking about this madman. We've had enough tearing this country into two factions, lets try to work together for a change, A little common sense goes a long way. Are you listening Ms. K ?


BUT, the sad part of your declaration rubs up against the same thing WE have been doing for a life time. WE haven't changed nor will we, for generations to come.

WE are a foregone conclusion and "common sense" is not part of the equation you are proposing. If that were the case, Hitler would have won the war and we would be speaking German instead of English. We are as much a herd of cattle as the German nation was in its day. Mind you, we fly a different flag, but the result, at any level of communication you want to speak from, is the same as local, State, Federal and International governments speak from on a daily basis. I'm from Missouri...SHOW ME, that we are any different than we were hundreds of years ago.

How many chapters of history do we need mangled and distorted than Ms Kuzemchalk and Mr. Bokee are willing to advocate, in another season of distractions that amount to ZIP?


Can I have the statue? I'll remove it at no cost to the city.


Question for Donna K. How do you correct history? Do you think people pay homage to these statutes? If you don't agree with something avoid it.


I know we've had this discussion before.
Even the Taney House over on Bentz goes to agonizing pains not to deify this guy.
Move this bust, get 'er done, then do something that fixes the present.
Btw it was Mary Quantrell who waved the flag, not Fritchie. Easy to research. Legends are fun and fine, but don't make for a solid basis for argument.


Right. Good to see that the city government has a laser-like focus on things that really matter. I'm also now very glad that I no longer live within the Frederick city limits.

Rightly tarnished in modern times for the Dred Scott decision, Taney was also Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for a good chunk the earlier years of the republic. He also served as Attorney General and Secretary of the Treasury. He is an historically-significant figure with local ties, and is buried in Frederick. (Want to dig up his grave, too?) His career was in no sense fully defined by Dred Scott.

As I recall, the signage around the current location of his bust does a decent job of putting him in proper context -- good and bad. Rather than follow this knee-jerk, censorious impulse to hide uncomfortable aspects of our national history away, why not instead keep them on display, properly explained and contextualized, to educate future generations?

Also, Taney was a "Confederate" in no sense at all; he remained loyal to the Union during the war, and remained on the Supreme Court until his death. To suggest that he was a Confederate or traitor has no basis in fact.


On your last point law history professor James F Simon's book 'Lincoln and CJ Taney' documents in some detail how Taney worked obsessively throughout the Civil War to undermine the Union cause, even drafting judicial rulings on cases he hoped would arise to undermine President Lincoln. He was a singleminded saboteur of US Government authority throughout the rebellion. His intent was to support the Confederacy and slavery. At this he was unsuccessful but he had done horrendous damage to the Republic in Dred Scott which encouraged the secession and the terrible civil war.


You can't re-write history but we can certainly progress by removing statues and flags that appear to glorify a time when we openly treated another race as animals. Teach your black child about Dred Scott then show them the statue and watch their face as you explain that it is Roger Taney that we memorialize.
Yes, let's remove anything that does not include everyone as equal human beings. It will forever be a part of history but hopefully taught as a shameful era.


Stop the madness! Nobody even paid any attention to that statue or whatever it is. How much of our money are you going to spend removing it instead of doing your job!!


Move it now.


Removing Taneys bust is going improve blacks social economic condition by ?


You're right and you make good points.
I forgot there is already an "apology" out there as well. Maybe we should put out another plaque/pedastal every time this comes up. "Still sorry and conflicted in 2015."


The wrongs we do today will keep the future generations busy!
What's the cost to move him and if we drop him "oh well"!
Here homeless man is your meal/shelter!


Wow the corr


I said it eight years ago, and it stands today:


Slavery is a stain you should WANT to wash away. I don't get these apologists on here. I seriously don't.


I don't see where the STAIN has been washed away or can be washed away. Slavery still exist today. Shop around and see for yourself whether Corporate America is any different than the plantations owners of years gone by. All we're doing is living the lie we perpetuate from one generation of humanity to the next and claim that it doesn't exist except from behind closed doors.

We have had a 150 years head start and look what we've managed to accomplish in all that time to todays date. Taking down flags, monuments and statues isn't going to change who WE really are and have always been. No amount of changing the scenery is going to make obvious segregation, bigotry and division go away. We can lie to ourselves, as Ms Kuzemchak, Wilson and Bokee are proposing but the stain remains the SAME, no matter how much white wash we have on hand to cover it over, with frivilous legislation like that of the Young family who at one point headed the Frederick County NAACP and still no black or brown leadership to speak of, in the county or city.

Look at all the flap that is being generated over another law and ordinace of speaking English only. We can TALK AT moving ahead but we're only lying to ourselves every time we show up, to the exclusion of another race and pretending no one else in the world is not listening into our blatant but subtle discrimination, founded hundreds of years ago.


This country is just peering into the rear view mirror way too much. We need to move on as eventually people like Kuzemchak and Wilson will just rewrite history to suite the current state of politics. History is supposed to be just that History not the current policy.


Get rid of it. It belonged to the original courthouse anyway. That bust has not place in front of City Hall. To all those who want to keep history "in its place," fine. Don't forget Taney, just don't celebrate him. It's not that difficult to make the distinction.




Thomas Johnson used slave labor at Catoctin Furnace to make cannon balls for the Revolutionary War, and his name is widely celebrated in Frederick as well. Is it time to change the name of TJ High to Thomas Jefferson High?. Oh, we can't, he had slaves too! History is history; learn from it, do not try and erase it.


Let's move on people especially in the blacks and liberals community to much of our focus is on the past and not enough on the slaughter occurring in our communities and households which Taney would approve off.


What do LIBERALS have to do with this conversation? Don't the Baltimore riots ring true that Taney and his beliefs remain present today. and that WE really haven't changed a bit in all the time between the Dread Scott decision and NOW. The THINKING remains the same. All we're doing now is dancing around the notion that we've grown in the last 150 years when we really haven't. We can manipulate the WORDS and long standing emotional FEELINGS all we want, but we continue to arrive back at the same point we started from centuries ago.


We celebrate our German roots. And yet we do not celebrate Naziism. The swastika is a part of history - no question. Yet we do not wear it proudly or wave it in front of our houses or hang it from our buildings. No doubt there were brave and honorable Nazis who gave their lives for what they believed was a noble cause. Yet we do not celebrate them. It's what happens when we learn to do better.


How many swasticas do you think fly in someones back yard, basement or garages of AMERICAN households? The Nazi sentiment and ideology still exist, and we'll find its roots being played out in our own democracy, or what's left of it and versions of "due process" that our own government have adopted to manipulate the masses to buy into the same kind of lies perpetuated by the Third Reich, in its day. All we are is just a repeat performance of the past, while disguised behind the likes of patriot and American citizen.

I celebrate my German heritage all the way back to the Caesars, when my family was eventually exiled for waging war against the Roman Empire. Are we doing any better now than in ancient times? Is our discrimination and beliefs any different than they were 150 years ago? We may change out the flags and monuments, but aren't we the same as we were throughout history?


I guess Taneytown will need to be renamed. Let's erase all the negative things from our past and pretend we are a perfect society. None of us alive today had anything to do with the Dred Scott decision.


Get rid of the Confederate flag in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, too.


I have some photos of it proudly flying in the wind.


"She framed the bust’s removal as an attempt not to rewrite history, but to correct it,"

So now we are correcting history?

Another knee jerk reaction by a small-time politician trying to look like she is actually doing something or accomplishing something.


I'm black I want the bust to remain as a reminder of the past, removing this domestic terrorist isn't going to change the conditions on the ground for my ancestors or those who pay the price because of their GOD given DNA.


Well said! [thumbup]


Right on. That bust needs to be there so we'll can have discussions about the past. We can't erase history, even though the politicians try.

I saw a book that "involved some of the earliest 'photo manipulation'. It's called 'The Commissar Vanishes, and it's a collection of photos dated back to Stalin's purges of the 1930's and 40's. Basically, if you were a member of the Soviet Politburo, and you were on the 'outs' with Stalin (probably headed to the Gulag or executed) your image in a photo would be erased along with any memory of you. It was the ultimate form of damage control."

There's more here:


Absolutely stupid. Do the business of the City instead of rewriting history. You already put a gaudy looking "explanation monument" in the courtyard. Are you going to remove that too?

I'm offended by the name "Frederick". Let's change that too!


niceund has a good point. While we are correcting history, "Frederick" celebrates our German roots, Germany spawned the Nazi Party, the Nazis wrecked havoc all over Europe in the first half of the 20th century, and caused the death of millions of people..........maybe we need to change the name of the town to something less offensive.


And the Nazis were creationists too! "Darwin" or "Darwinton" would be good names offensive to no one.


Willie Mahone, a Frederick lawyer, likened the bust to hate speech.

“It does not bespeak well for the Frederick city government to have that hate speech sitting outside City Hall,” Mahone said. “This is Fred city’s Confederate flag.”

Yep...besides now that you have written a front page story about this the vandals will be descending upon that bust any second now.


this is worse than ridiculous. i don't know how else to describe all of this hog wash over things that happened so many years ago.i was born and raised in town named taneytown in carroll county. is someone going to put a bug in their ear to change the name of that city. there are far more important items that need to be addressed like one poster mentioned fix our roads i live on taney avenue there is no need to change the name of this street.


This is becoming ridiculous. If someone in your past did something that you now find embarrassing you move on, you don't cleanse him/her from history. We're not Stalinist Donna.

Now get busy fixing our roads and updating our schools. You know, they things you were elected to do!




Change the name of Taney Ave. while your at it...

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