Brian White, Associated Press, December 29, 2020
After decades of debate, legislators are finally sensing strong support for repealing Maryland’s state song, a Civil War-era call to arms for the Confederacy against “Northern scum” that refers to President Abraham Lincoln as a despot.
“Maryland, My Maryland,” set to the traditional seasonal tune of “O, Tannenbaum,” was written as a poem in 1861 by James Ryder Randall and adopted as the state song in 1939. Lawmakers have tried to replace it since 1974. This year’s nationwide protests against racial injustice may have made the difference.
“Confederate-sympathizing language is not representative of who we are as a state any longer,” said House Speaker Adrienne Jones, who became the first Black person and first woman to hold the leadership post last year. She’s confident a repeal will finally pass in the session that begins in January.
“This session, we will pass legislation to repeal the state song so we can better reflect our current values of unity, diversity and inclusion,” the Democrat said in a statement. “We have come too far as a state and as a country to continue to embrace symbols of hate and division.”
Maryland was a border state in 1861, and many of its residents at the time sympathized with Randall’s call to secede from the Union. He wrote it as he was distraught over the shooting of a friend during a melee when Union troops marched through Baltimore on their way to Washington.
Younger Marylanders and sporting institutions have pushed for change.