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Rockville Mayor and Council: State Song Must Be Replaced

Does Not Reflect Maryland’s Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Unity 

The Mayor and Council on Monday agreed to send a letter urging Gov. Larry Hogan and Maryland General Assembly leadership to work together to remove “Maryland, My Maryland” as the state song.

The call from Rockville’s Mayor and Council to change the state song, a discussion brought forward by Councilmember Beryl L. Feinberg, comes at a critical time, with national and local protests for racial equality, following the death in May of George Floyd during his arrest by Minneapolis police officers. The legislature has unsuccessfully considered changing the state song several times, most recently during this year’s session, which ended prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the discussion unresolved.

“Maryland, My Maryland,” adopted by the legislature in 1939 to represent the state, was composed originally as a nine-stanza poem by James Ryder Randall in April 1861, prompted by his outrage at the news of Union troops marching through Baltimore. At the time, Randall, a native Marylander, was teaching in Louisiana.

The song, set to the traditional tune of “Lauriger Horatius” (“O, Tannenbaum”), contains references to “the despot’s heel,” “tyrant’s chain,” and “Northern scum.”

The song became a battle hymn and symbol of Confederate America. As such, the song is an “antithesis of our shared values of diversity, inclusion, equity, and unity,” the Mayor and Council wrote.

To see the Mayor and Council’s discussion, visit www.rockvillemd.gov/AgendaCenter, and click on the TV icon next to the Sept. 14 agenda item.

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