Darrow statue unveiling draws crowd but no protesters

Darrow statue unveiling draws crowd but no protesters

July 14th, 2017 by Ben Benton in Local Regional News
Philadelphia sculptor Zenos Frudakis in his workshop on Friday stands beside his rendition of Clarence Darrow. The completed statue will be installed at the Rhea County Courthouse on July 13 and dedicated on July 14, the first day the Scopes Trial Play and Festival in Dayton, Tenn.

Philadelphia sculptor Zenos Frudakis in his workshop on...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

DAYTON, Tenn. — A bronze of Clarence Darrow today joined his Scopes Trial adversary in front of the Rhea County Courthouse here for the first time in nearly a century amid music from the 1920s, people in period dress, and onlookers sweating in the July heat.

The statue of Darrow was dedicated at the site of the famous Scopes Monkey Trial opposite a statue of William Jennings Bryan that was installed in 2005.

The adversaries "would have been tickled, absolutely tickled" with the event, actor John de Lancie said after the seven-foot-tall bronze of Darrow was unveiled.

De Lancie, best known as "Q" on the television series "Star Trek: The Next Generation," also played Darrow in a stage production.

He wondered at what the pair of lawyers would have thought of drawing a crowd 92 years later.

"In all of the accomplishments of their lives and all the things that they did, that a hundred years later — almost — we would all go 'Dayton! Dayton! Oh, my gosh, the 'Monkey Trial!'" de Lancie said.

"This isn't just an event. This is history," Freedom From Religion Foundation co-president Dan Barker said after the statue unveiling. "This installation of the statue is an historical event in itself."

There were no protests or demonstrations, though they were expected. The crowd gathered in downtown Dayton talked, laughed and took photos of the newly installed Darrow statue and the existing one of Bryan with the iconic courthouse where the Scopes trial took place as a backdrop.

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The veil snagged on Darrow's lock of hair, and it took about five minutes for the black cloth to be removed to uncover the handiwork of Pennsylvania sculptor Zenos Frudakis.

"He would have approved. He would have laughed," Barker said of the hang-up.

The statue was installed Thursday, ahead of today's dedication.

From July 10 to July 21, 1925, the Rhea County Courthouse was the stage for the trial of Dayton High School teacher John T. Scopes, who was charged with violating state law by teaching that human beings evolved from a "lower order of animals."

Scopes, defended by Darrow, was convicted and fined $100, but the decision was reversed in 1927 by the Tennessee Supreme Court because the judge and not the jury set Scopes' fine. The Butler Act, the act at issue in the trial, stood until 1967 when it was repealed by Tennessee lawmakers. The case raised debate on issues such as separation of church and state, academic freedom and the relationship between science and religion.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.


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