Maryland Senate expected to pass bill to repeal official state song

March 19, 2021

By: David Collins

Watch the full piece here.

The Maryland Senate is expected to finally pass legislation to repeal the state’s official song. The House has already acted on the measure.

The lyrics in the song “Maryland, My Maryland” have been considered offensive because of its racist overtones and sympathy for the confederacy.

After five years of discussion and debate, lawmakers have decided that no state song is better than having one people find offensive.

The song “Maryland, My Maryland” calls President Abraham Lincoln a despot and refers to unionists as northern scum. It was written during the civil war as an ode to the confederacy.

“They glorify the actions of a mob as a patriotic gore. They enshrine a world in which slavery was considered righteous,” Maryland historian Edward Papenfuse said.

Both the House and Senate have voted to repeal the song to the dustbins of the state archives.

“Today, we are at a different place and time in the community, the state, the nation,” bill sponsor Del. Sheree Sample Hughes, D-Eastern Shore said. “So, it’s time to take a comprehensive look at the issue and see how we want to move Maryland forward and by moving Maryland forward means the repeal of the song.”

The song, an 1861 poem by James Ryder, is set to the tune of “O’Tannenbaum.” Ryder was upset about a friend getting shot when Union troops marched through Baltimore.

For at least five years, state lawmakers have wrestled with repealing it or striking the offensive lyrics. In 2018, lawmakers even held a competition to replace it.

Country music singer Damion Wolfe came up with a rendition. Baltimore hip hop artist Femy the Dry Fish performed a rap.

Sen. Cheryl Kagan, D-Montgomery County, who pushed the repeal, credits new leadership in both chambers for it is finally happening.

“States around the country are repealing their confederate symbols. So, flags are coming down, statutes are coming down. It’s time to get rid of Maryland’s confederate era themed song that is so offensive to all of us,” Kagan said.

Gov. Larry Hogan has not taken a public stand on this issue. His press office said he will review the legislation when it is presented to him.