Rename Taney Field for a True Philadelphia Hero

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In the small hours of August 16, 2017, Baltimore city workers quietly tore down three monuments commemorating icons of the Confederacy and America’s bloody legacy of slavery. Among those statues was one depicting Roger B. Taney, the Supreme Court Chief Justice whose 1857 decision in the infamous Dred Scott case held in broad and incendiary terms that African Americans were inherently ineligible for the rights and blessings of citizenship. Taney’s opinion gave deadly rhetorical ammunition to the Confederate cause in the Civil War and to the racist movements that emerged and endure in its wake.

The name Taney surely rings a bell with any Philadelphian who followed the 2014 Little League baseball exploits of the storied Taney Dragons and their pitching phenom Mo’ne Davis, whose heroics on the mound garnered national attention and affection in what seems like a political lifetime ago. The Dragons derive their name from Taney Street, which runs near the Schuylkill River and abuts their home field, informally and widely known as “Taney Field.” And yes, it’s that Taney.

Today, with white nationalists and neo-Nazis emboldened by an appallingly sympathetic president, the celebratory artifacts of America’s shameful past have become flash points for violent, racist mobs seeking to advance their repulsive ideologies. Just as cities like Charlottesville and Baltimore are moving to disavow and remove these artifacts, so too must Philadelphia reckon with its own tributes to white supremacists of bygone eras.

With this imperative in mind, we propose that “Taney Field” officially be renamed Mo’ne Davis Field, in tribute to a Philadelphian who brought disparate communities together with her talent, poise, and uncommon grace under pressure. A public ball field is a place where kids, families and neighbors converge in the spirit of recreation, teamwork, and fun. Such a place merits better than to be associated with a historical perpetrator of hate. Let's rename Taney Field for Mo'ne Davis, a true Philadelphia hero.

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