It is better to face the errors of our past than to bury them. The statue of Melville Fuller stands as a reminder of that past and provides occasion for future generations to learn about and from it (“Maine Supreme Court questions Fuller statue outside Kennebec courthouse,” Aug. 12).

Fuller as chief justice of the Supreme Court, along with six other justices, voted for the infamous Plessy v. Ferguson decision that institutionalized “separate but equal” segregation as law of the land.

From a modern perspective the decision is abominably racist. At the time it was viewed as progressive in that it required public accommodations for people of color be as good as, rather than less than, those for whites.

Those who opposed the decision at the time objected not to the “separate” but to the “equal.” More than 150 years later, a new Supreme Court recognized that there was no equal in separate.

One lesson from the Plessy decision is that well-meaning people can be wrong, as it is, I believe, with those who wish to remove the statue.

Fuller’s statue stands as a marker in the stream of U.S. history. It signals how far we have come and how far we have to go.


Jonathan W. Robbins


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.