May 2017 Church & State - May 2017

Statue Honoring ‘Scopes Monkey Trial’ Lawyer To Be Unveiled In July

  AU admin

A statue of Clarence Darrow – the lawyer who famously defended John T. Scopes when he taught evolution in a Tennessee public school – is expected to be unveiled in Rhea County, Tenn., in July.

Darrow’s likeness will square off against that of William Jennings Bryan, the creationist prosecutor who successfully argued Scopes had illegally taught evolution at Dayton High School in 1925.

Bryan’s statue has been located outside the Rhea County Courthouse, the scene of the infamous trial, for a dozen years.

Bill Dusenberry, an Americans United activist in Oklahoma, told Tulsa World last year he was spurred to raise support and funds for a Darrow statue to join Bryan’s after a visit to Dayton in 2009. (See “Darrow In Dayton?” September 2016 Church & State.)

“It was obvious to me when I saw that he was not represented, that I needed to do my best to do something about it,” Dusenberry told the newspaper.

Philadelphia sculptor Zenos Frudakis told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that he plans to install his Darrow statue on July 13. A dedication will be held July 14, the day the Scopes Trial Play and Festival begins.

Rhea County Commissioner Bill Hollin told the newspaper he’s not a fan of the Darrow statue. Hollin cited his own religious beliefs and the fact that Darrow was on the losing side of the trial as reasons for his opposition. Hollin also believes Bryan’s contributions to Dayton were more significant.

“There is a lot of people in the community that oppose it,” Hollin told the paper. However, Hollin said he planned no further official opposition to erecting Darrow’s statue.

Frudakis said no public money was used in creating the statue; the American Humanist Association and private donors helped to raise money for it.

Ralph Green, president of the Rhea County Historical and Genealogical Society, told the paper he does not object to the addition of Darrow’s statue at the courthouse, which he said would make for a more accurate story of the trial.

“The Scopes Trial would not have been what it was without the two of them,” Green said.

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