Maryland My What?


Photo by: Liberty of Congress Maryland States Song Lyrics

The Maryland state song, “Maryland, My Maryland,” has been an issue in the eyes of members of the General Assembly for the past 40 years, because of its favoritism towards the Confederacy and Era of Slavery.  Maryland House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones and her colleagues have brought this to the attention of the senate for the past five years but have only scraped the surface in what they want to accomplish.

The history of the song roots back to a Baltimore native, James Ryder Randall, in 1861. Written during the first years of the Civil War, Ryder sympathized with the Confederacy, writing the song to show Maryland’s “greatness” during the confederacy.

As a native Marylander, I have never heard our state’s song and was shocked that it was racist. Our school system has not taught us about our state song or brought up the history behind it. This is surprising given how many times we have had to take history classes or were taught about this state’s history.

As the Washington Post reported, Jones believes, “the time to do it is now.”

Photo by: WTOP news
Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones

As she is the state’s first African American House Speaker, she feels the need to remove racism and our racist past from this country and state. This is an important goal that I agree with because it is deeply embodiment in our society and in people’s lives. Now, more than ever, Jones feels that removing the state’s song is another step towards her goal.

The Washington Post reported in 2017 that, because of protests and counter-protests in Charlottesville, the University of Maryland had stopped playing the state song at its football games because it related to the Confederacy. This is an example that demonstrates people are taking action and realized the ugliness of Ryder’s song.

The most recent events of demoting the state song dates back to 2016. Senate passed legislation to replace the song. Thinking this would succeed and finally make the change Jones and her colleagues wanted to see, a bill was passed only to change the song to the “historical state song.”

A racist song like this should not be the song the represents Maryland, and also a part of the U.S. The Maryland legislature needs to take away this song, to show that we do not stand for this behavior and this racism in our country.

Senator Cheryl Kegan, who sponsored bills since 2016, knew that bills were going to be hard to pass because of the former Senate President, Thomas V. “Mike” Miller.

“With a Senate president who is deeply connected to Maryland’s history, the prospects of passing something significant was remote,” Kegan told the Post. “I think with new leadership and a new era, it will be time to revisit the issue….It’s past time.”

I agree with Kegan’s statement, it is past time. We as a state and as a country need to go forward and think progressively, not how our ancestors thought. We need to right the wrongs of the past and as citizens take leadership in what we want representing us.

Virginia’s state song, “Carry Me Back to Old Virginia,” uses racist language also, although Virginia lawmakers have done much more than Maryland lawmakers. Virginia had demoted its former state song back in 1997 to “state song emeritus” instead of its official state song.

I hope the legislature can vote to replace the Maryland States song. On a more positive note, the Maryland’s Statehouse unveiled statues of Harriet Tubman and Fredrick Douglass which could be a symbol of change.

There is a long road ahead for the Jones, filled with challenges and hardships. I know that with persistence Jones can accomplish her goals and erase the celebration of our racist past.