The Caucus of African American Leaders has unanimously voted to ask that when the Francis Scott Key Bridge is rebuilt, it no longer bear the name of the national anthem’s author.

The consortium of Civil Rights groups includes the NAACP, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and others. It voted to recommend changing the name of the Key Bridge because it honors a man who enslaved African Americans and wrote lyrics that scholars have found “demeaned Black people.”

The 47-year-old Key Bridge was toppled by a massive cargo ship in the early-morning hours of March 26. Federal and state leaders have vowed to rebuild the Patapsco River crossing.

The caucus is now calling on Gov. Wes Moore and the Maryland General Assembly to rename the bridge after the late U.S. Rep. Parren J. Mitchell, the first African American from Maryland elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

The caucus is also asking that the Senator Frederick Malkus Memorial Bridge, a beam bridge over the Choptank River in Dorchester County, be renamed for the late Gloria Richardson, a Civil Rights pioneer and leader in Maryland. The late Gov. Harry R. Hughes opposed naming the bridge for Malkus, who was resistant to desegregation in the 1960s and 1970s, according to the group.

In addition, the group has also called on Moore to create a memorial to those who died when the Key Bridge collapsed.

Asked Monday afternoon about potentially changing the name of the Key Bridge, Moore said he’s focused instead on recovering the bodies of the workers, reopening the shipping channel and working toward rebuilding the bridge. He had just heard of the proposal to change the name.

”I think any other conversations along those lines, there will be time for that but now’s not the time,” he told reporters.

Francis Scott Key remains a polarizing figure. Best known for writing the text of the American national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner,” his legacy has also been clouded by accusations of racism.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

As a lawyer, Key helped Black Marylanders sue for their freedom prior to emancipation, but he later abhorred the thought of free Black citizens in America so much that he fought to send them to Liberia.

In later years, Key regretted that he had helped Black Marylanders sue for their freedom, saying it had “produced for them nothing but evil,” and claimed he could not “remember more than two instances, out of this large number, in which it did not appear that the freedom I so earnestly sought for them was their ruin.” He called Black Americans “a distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community.”

The caucus plans to formally give Moore its request this week, but will further discuss the issue during its quarterly meeting with the governor. That will occur some time after the legislative session is over, according to Carl O. Snowden, convener of the Caucus of African American Leaders.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“There will be some opposition to this, which we can anticipate. That goes without saying,” he said.

Baltimore Banner reporters Pamela Wood, Penelope Blackwell and Rona Kobell contributed to this story.