As a descendant of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Melville Fuller, I add my name to the long list of those agreeing with the call for the removal of his statue from the grounds of our Capitol Judicial Center in Augusta. I have long known that there was a chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in our family, but I only recently learned of his presiding (and joining) role in the notorious Plessy v. Ferguson decision, which upheld the constitutionality of segregation and so institutionalized systemic racism in our country.

By giving constitutional sanction to segregation, this decision helped ensure the failure of post-Civil War reconstruction, paved the road to the horrific violence of the Jim Crow era, and the present day gross inequality in housing, health care, income, education, justice and voting rights. I firmly believe that a statue commemorating such a man has no place in a society espousing equality, and certainly not on the grounds of our state’s Judicial Center, which ought to represent the highest judicial and moral values of Maine.

Removing the Melvin Fuller statue from the Capitol Judicial Center is more than a Kennebec County issue. It is an important opportunity for all of Maine with her own checkered history to begin to acknowledge and repair the painful but true history of white supremacy on which the United States was founded and has since prospered.

Ridgely Fuller
Vienna and Belfast

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