Francis Scott Key Monument located in Baltimore, Maryland on the corner of W. Lanvale Street and Eutaw Place. The Francis Scott Key Monument is a very large monument placed in the heart of Baltimore City which main purpose was to commemorate and remember Francis Scott Key, the writer of the Star Spangled Banner, otherwise known as America's national anthem.
Francis Scott Key, a highly respected Maryland lawyer and former slave owner, is the writer of the Star Spangled Banner, otherwise known as America’s national anthem. Francis Scott Key sat out on a boat in the Baltimore inner harbor on the night of September 13th, 1812 overlooking the bombardment taking place at Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 when he wrote The Star Spangled Banner.
In 1907, Baltimore resident, Charles Marburg, gave $25,000 to his brother, Theodore, to commission a monument to his favorite poet, Francis Scott Key. The Francis Scott Key Monument located in Baltimore, Maryland on the corner of W. Lanvale Street and Eutaw Place was unveiled to the public on May 15, 1911. The sculptor responsible for this project was France native, Jean Marius Antonin Mercie, who was known for monumental sculptures of Robert E. Lee (1890) in Richmond, Virginia and General Lafeyette (1891) in the District of Columbia.
Baltimore City is a predominately African American community. To build and place a monument commemorating a person who was a former slave owner in the heart of the city is distasteful in its own regard. The monument first started gaining historical significance in 1999 when, then First Lady, Hillary Clinton, spoke at the monument on the importance of renovating and preserving America’s historical monuments. Several years later in April of 2015, Freddie Gray, a Baltimore African American teen, was wrongfully arrested and killed under police custody. This, along with the Charleston Church shooting in the summer of 2017, sparked the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement in an effort to expose the controversy behind a flawed a corrupt governmental system.
Following the Charleston Church shootings, then Mayor of Baltimore City, Catherine Pugh, decided to take down multiple confederate monuments around the city overnight, however, decided to keep the Francis Scott Key Monument up. Nearly a month following this decision, Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks workers discovered that the monument had been splattered in bright red paint along with the phrase “Racist Anthem” spray painted in black on various areas of the monument.
The vandalism of the monument is part of broader social movements that took place within the city that Baltimore residents believe should be exposed. Advocates for the Black Lives Matter movement expressed their frustration with the presence of a monument that commemorates a former slave owner through this nonviolent direct action. Supporters of this action stated that “tearing down monuments” is linked to “tearing down systems” that maintain white supremacy.
Following the vandalism, or as supporters of the movement like to say, nonviolent direct action, the city quickly restored the monument. Months following the vandalism, Baltimore city officials decided to surround the monument with a 6-feet high chain-linked fence in an effort to protect the monument from further damage. However, many people to this day, myself included, believe that the monument should be taken down for good given the fact that Francis Scott Key was a slave owner and the monument in which he is commemorated is in a predominately African American community whom themselves have long been fighting for equality.