Civil Rights Groups Have Called For Collapsed Baltimore Bridge To Be Re-Named

TOPSHOT - The steel frame of the Francis Scott Key Bridge sit on top of a container ship after the bridge collapsed in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 26, 2024. The bridge collapsed after being struck by a container ship, sending multiple vehicles and up to 20 people plunging into the harbor below. "Unfortunately, we understand that there were up to 20 individuals who may be in the Patapsco River right now as well as multiple vehicles," Kevin Cartwright of the Baltimore Fire Department told CNN. Ship monitoring website MarineTraffic showed a Singapore-flagged container ship called the Dali stopped under the bridge. (Photo by Mandel NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN’s Abril Elfi
2:14 PM – Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Civil rights groups have called for the collapsed Baltimore bridge to be re-named due to the “history” of the name. 


On Monday, a group called the Caucus of African American Leaders of Anne Arundel County voted unanimously to pass resolutions that call on Governor Wes Moore (D-Md.) to re-name the Francis Scott Key Bridge. 

The group argues that the collapse of the bridge “allows Marylanders and taxpayers to remove names from bridges that do not honor all Marylanders.”

They also reportedly claimed that “Key was a slave owner” who wrote lyrics that “demeaned Black people.” 

The caucus is now urging that the bridge be named after Congressman Parren J. Mitchell instead, the first Black man from Maryland to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. 

“Of course the naysayers will not be happy and we anticipate opposition,” caucus convener Carl Snowden told the Gazette. “However, we know we are on the right side of history and will eventually prevail.”

According to reports, Key, who wrote the national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner” while being held prisoner on a British ship in the Port of Baltimore during the War of 1812, grew up on a Maryland plantation and owned at least six slaves, whom he housed and fed. Later, in 1830, Key freed his slaves and helped many Black people in Maryland obtain their freedom as well, years before the Emancipation Proclamation. 

However, according to the Baltimore Banner, he also stood up for those who owned slaves and who wanted to reclaim their “property.”

Key went on to become one of the founding members of the American Colonization Society, an organization that encouraged African Americans to immigrate to the continent.

Black Americans are a “distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community,” according to critics of Key who claim that he said that. However, the Star Spangled Music Foundation says that this quote is “incorrectly credited to Key as a first-person expression of his attitudes about race in the United States.”

“The quote is taken from page 40 of Jefferson Morley’s generally insightful 2012 book ‘Snow-Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835,’” the foundation explained in a blog post. “Morley, in turn, cites as his sole source a quote in the 1937 biography ‘Francis Scott Key: Life and Times’ by Edward S. Delaplaine. This biography is the source of confusion as to the quote’s speaker.”

The group has submitted the resolution for the new name to the governor’s office and is planning to discuss the matter in a future meeting. 

When asked about the proposal, Moor stated that he is more concerned about revering the bodies of the construction workers killed in the bridge collapse, as well as reopening the channel. 

“I think any conversations along those lines, there will be time for that, but now’s not the time,” Moore said.

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