Does Not Reflect Maryland’s Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Unity
Rockville, Maryland, Sept. 17 — The Mayor and Council on Monday unanimously 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, and replace it with one that “amplifies the diversity, inclusion, equity, and unity that is representative of our wonderful communities.”
The call from Rockville’s Mayor and Council to change the state song 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.
The Mayor and Council is moving forward with several initiatives to support social justice and the elimination of systemic racism and bias, including having unanimously designated Juneteenth as an official city holiday, and directing the establishment of a commission related to community policing.
“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.
To see the letters in full, visit www.RockvilleReports.com.
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Director of Communication