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Commitment to Removing National Symbols of Racism and Educating Youth about our Nation’s History Leads Living Classrooms Foundation to Remove Roger B. Taney’s Racist Legacy from Former Coast Guard Cutter in Baltimore

Commitment to Removing National Symbols of Racism and Educating Youth about our Nation’s History Leads Living Classrooms Foundation to Remove Roger B. Taney’s Racist Legacy from Former Coast Guard Cutter in Baltimore

Baltimore, MD – In support of the local, national, and global call to remove symbols venerating oppression and racial injustice, Living Classrooms Foundation and Historic Ships in Baltimore have decided to remove the name of the former U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Taney. After notification to the U.S. Coast Guard and in coordination with the City of Baltimore, this decision was approved by Living Classrooms Foundation’s Board of Trustees and their Historic Ships in Baltimore Advisory Board. Presently, the ship will be referred to by its hull identification, WHEC 37, which stands for High Endurance Cutter.

USCGC Taney (WHEC 37) is a national historic landmark and the last surviving warship from the attack on Pearl Harbor. At the request of the City, since 1994, Living Classrooms has been the steward of the former USCGC Taney. The organization has operated the ship as a museum for the general public, a “living classroom” for thousands of students, and as a memorial to the men and women who served aboard her and in our armed forces. Living Classrooms’ education programs have focused on the important role the ship and her crew has played in serving the United States. Each year, on December 7th, people from around the country gather on board the ship for a Pearl Harbor Remembrance so that we do not forget that infamous day in 1941.

Living Classrooms recently completed a capital campaign raising $420,000 to dry dock the ship for critical repairs and preservation. The work will take place at the U.S. Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay in fall 2020.

The former USCGC Taney (WHEC 37) was named after Roger B. Taney because of his position as Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, which occurred prior to his selection as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. She is one of seven sister ships that were named after U.S. Treasury Secretaries. However, Roger B. Taney is best known and reviled as the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court who delivered the majority opinion in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case. Taney, speaking for seven members of the Court, declared that all African Americans – slave or free – were not U.S. citizens at the time of the country’s Founding and could not become citizens. He asserted that the Founders thought that blacks were an inferior class of humans and had “no rights which the white man was bound to respect,” and no right to sue in federal court. This was a gross act of injustice toward African Americans. Taney could have stopped there, but he believed this decision could end the sectional conflict over the expansion of slavery. He declared that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional, that Congress had no power to regulate slavery in the territories, and that slavery could become legal throughout the nation. Finally, Taney pronounced that Dred Scott, despite the years he spent in the free state and territory that allowed other slaves to claim their freedom, was still a slave.

James Piper Bond, President and CEO of Living Classrooms Foundation, states “We have been inspired that now is the time to make this change. Taney’s ruling was an abomination and a great injustice towards African Americans. The national historic landmark we are charged with stewarding should be reflective of our values of equality and opportunity for all.”

“We are not erasing history,” states Bond. “Nor is it our intention to minimize the service and sacrifice of the men and women who have served with honor aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Taney. Our intention is to learn from history and celebrate the legacy of the ship and those who served aboard.” Upon determining the next steps, Living Classrooms will continue its strong tradition of education with the development of programming and a curriculum explaining the history of the Dred Scott decision, how this decision perpetuated and enhanced the legal foundation of structural racism, and contributed directly to events leading to the Civil War. Most importantly, the Foundation will educate students of all ages about why it was important to remove the name “Taney” from this historic vessel so that the sacrifice of those who served aboard this ship is not tainted by the dark legacy of Roger B. Taney.

Existing artifacts will be weaved into the education program. Historic Ships in Baltimore presently has education programs that include African‐American Maritime History. “Black Sailors in Navy Blue” discusses the experience of African Americans enlisted in the Civil War Navy and also highlights the USS Constellation’s role as flagship of the U.S. African Squadron prior to the Civil War, and the liberation of nearly 4,000 Africans from slavery in the New World. Living Classrooms also celebrates the lives of Frederick Douglass and Isaac Myers and the fifteen founders of the country’s first black‐owned shipyard at the Frederick Douglass‐Isaac Myers Maritime Park, also located on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

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About the Historic Ships in Baltimore

Located in and around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the Historic Ships in Baltimore is a subsidiary of the nonprofit organization, Living Classrooms Foundation. The organization preserves a collection of national treasures including the WHEC #37, USS Torsk, Lightship Chesapeake, the USS Constellation, and the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse. All of these assets serve as “living classrooms” for students and the general public. More at www.historicships.org.

Historic Ships’ five vessels are temporarily closed to visitors due to ongoing concerns about the spread of COVID‐19 and associated guidance restricting interactions in close quarters. Staff is actively creating virtual content that can bring the experience to the public from the comfort and safety of their homes.

About Living Classrooms

Living Classrooms Foundation is a Baltimore‐Washington, DC‐based nonprofit that disrupts the cycle of poverty and helps the communities we serve become safer, stronger, and healthier by meeting individuals where they are and building skills for life. We inspire children, youth, and adults to achieve their potential through hands‐on education, workforce development, health and wellness, and violence prevention programming, using urban, natural, and maritime resources as "living classrooms." Living Classrooms Foundation has been serving the community since 1985.  More at:  www.livingclassrooms.org.

Critical Repairs to Take Four Months on Historic Ship

BALTIMORE, MD – The Coast Guard Yard, the U.S. Coast Guard’s 115-year old shipyard, became a scene of living history on the morning of October 22, 2014 as it welcomed the USS Constellation for an anticipated four-month repair availability. Constellation will join other Coast Guard customers including the Coast Guard Barque Eagle, the 78-year old square rigger and training ship of the Coast Guard Academy, in the Yard for repair.

Berthed in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor for the past 60 years, the 160-year old Constellation is a U.S. Navy “sloop-of-war” and under custody of the City of Baltimore as a museum ship. The non-profit organization, Historic Ships in Baltimore, a program of the Living Classrooms Foundation, serves as the vessel’s caretaker. Constellation last dry-dock was in 2011.

Located within a safe transit distance from the Inner Harbor and the only facility available locally to do the work, the Yard signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the City of Baltimore to accomplish critical repairs to a 4,000-square-foot portion of the ship’s deteriorating wood hull plate. Federal law permits the Coast Guard Yard to perform ship repair work for other government agencies. The $2 million project is funded by the City of Baltimore and the State of Maryland.

USS Constellation anticipates departing the Yard for its Inner Harbor berth on February 20, 2015.

"Each year the USS Constellation offers thousands of school children, families and tourists the opportunity to experience living history right in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor,” said Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. “During the recent Star Spangled Spectacular, we celebrated the ship’s long and proud history. . . Restoration of the USS Constellation will ensure future generations have the opportunity to step back in time and learn about her century of service in the U.S. Navy.”

"The USS Constellation is one of Baltimore's most historic treasures, prominently berthed at Baltimore's Inner Harbor as an icon for all to enjoy," said Mayor of Baltimore Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. "As the birthplace of our national anthem, it is vital that we continue to preserve the historical monuments that have contributed to our nation's past and ensure that visitors and residents alike can continue to explore our rich history."

“We are looking forward to working together with the personnel of the U.S. Coast Guard Yard on this very important preservation project to save Constellation,” said Chris Rowsom, Executive Director of Historic Ships in Baltimore and Vice President of Living Classrooms Foundation.

The USS Constellation (IX-20) was built in 1854 and is the last remaining ship afloat that was active during the U.S. Civil War. Constellation is also the Navy’s last designed and constructed sail-only warship.

Prior to Civil War service, Constellation interdicted merchant vessels engaged in the illegal slave trade off the coast of Africa. The ship served as a U.S. Naval Academy training ship from 1879 to 1893, was stationed at Naval Station Newport RI in the early 1900s, and was assigned as the Reserve Atlantic Fleet Flagship in WWII.

Once back in the Inner Harbor in 2015, the historic USS Constellation will be open daily for public tours as the flagship of the Historic Ships in Baltimore fleet.

Press release provided by: Office of Public Affairs, US Coast Guard

Contact: Coast Guard Yard Communications Office, (410) 636-7238

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