11:35 AM EDT, March 12, 2014
I find it unfortunate that the Prince George's County Library Board believes it needs to remove Charles Stanley's name from Laurel's newly expanded and renovated library when it reopens. Citing Stanley's Confederate military experience — he served as a private in Company B, 1st Maryland Cavalry, CS — -is not only political correctness run amuck, it ignores and defies the post war contributions this man made to his community, his state and the United States for nearly a half century after Appomattox.
After the war, Charles Stanley returned to his community to farm and teach school, studying law in his spare time, being admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1869. A charter member of the Vansville Farmers' Club of Prince George's County, Stanley would go on to found Citizen's National Bank of Laurel, where he served as president from 1890 until his death in 1913. In 1906, he was elected first vice-president of the Association of School Commissioners and County Superintendents of Maryland. In addition, this man also served as a director of the B & O Railroad and as a member of the Board of Trustees for Maryland Agricultural College, which we know today as the University of Maryland.
Service as city commissioner in Laurel would lead to his election to the Maryland House of Delegates for three years, and later as Laurel's mayor. Near the end of his life (1911) Gov. Austin Crothers appointed him Comptroller of Maryland.
So, instead of ruminating on Stanley's "Confederate history" (and polarizing their constituents), I would urge the Library Board to re-embrace Stanley's much more positive story of rejoining and reinvesting his talents back into his community, state and reunited country after the war. Indeed, Stanley's post war actions are a superb example of an ex-Confederate who earnestly sought through his actions and community service to bind up the nation's wounds. After all, isn't positive always better than negative? (I believe he donated the land on which the original library was erected.)
But if folks are still hung up on this Confederate thing, having the Stanley Library near Emancipation Community Park and the African-American Grove neighborhood, I would suggest there's nothing wrong with everyone in Laurel celebrating their fair share of diversity.
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun