The Thomas Kennedy Center is dedicated to celebrating Hagerstown-Washington County's state legislator Thomas Kennedy's tireless efforts of advancing religious liberty and inclusiveness in 19th Century Maryland; and teaching how his legacy applies today, regardless of differences that might exist among us in race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, color, orientation, and gender.
The Thomas Kennedy Memorial Park will be dedicated to the ideals of religious freedom and tolerance.
In light of the shootings of eleven innocent people, Rabbi Ari Plost wrote an Opinion Letter in the Baltimore Sun. In relating to 19th Century Thomas Kennedy, the Rabbi says, in part:
"Elected to the state legislature, he worked to pass what became known as the “Jew Bill,” overturning that state law and opening the American tent to a people who had often been discriminated against.
For his work fighting for laws recognizing the equality of Jews, Kennedy was called a “Judas” and a betrayer of Christian values. But he continued to speak out, arguing that true Christian values welcomed the stranger, the other and the needy. Though he was harried out of office for a time, his arguments eventually won the day.
Recently we have been working across Maryland to recognize Kennedy’s role in state history. Supported by the state’s governor and legislature, as well as the speaker of the state house, state senate leader, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and many others, a statue memorializing Kennedy will be dedicated on public lands in Hagerstown next year, to carry forward the legacy of his belief in the importance of religious pluralism to all Americans.
Like Kennedy, we can’t ignore the painful historical fact that anti-Semitism has existed since the beginning of our country."
The Rabbi's entire Opinion Letter is here:
The sculpture of Thomas Kennedy was lit during last night's vigil. Although not officially dedicated or "open," the under-construction plaza reminded people of Thomas Kennedy and his efforts to promote religious rights and freedoms.