Delegation supports stamp for Kennedy

January 27, 2009

Civil-rights advocate and former Hagerstown resident Thomas Kennedy might be gone, but he has not been forgotten.

Kennedy successfully fought to allow Jewish people to serve elected office in Maryland in 1826, and now a local group of state lawmakers and an Anne Arundel County official want Kennedy honored in a postage stamp.

In a Jan. 20 letter, seven local House of Delegates and state Senate members, along with Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold, asked the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee to honor Kennedy with a postage stamp.

On behalf of the postmaster general, the advisory committee evaluates stamp requests, according to the U.S. Postal Service Web site.

Maryland's constitution once required that officeholders declare a belief in Christian religion, according to the letter. Kennedy's nine-year effort to eliminate the requirement subjected him to relentless attacks as "an enemy of Christianity," the letter said.


Two Jewish people were elected to the Baltimore City Council shortly after Kennedy's bill passed, the letter said.

After Kennedy's bill passed, he left the Maryland General Assembly, returned home to Hagerstown and helped establish the Hagerstown Mail newspaper, the letter said.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, who signed the letter requesting the stamp, said he was "very, very proud" of Kennedy's efforts.

Leopold, who is Jewish, pushed for an artistic display representing Kennedy in 1987, when he was a lawmaker, Shank said.

- Dave McMillion

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