Montgomery County Lawmakers Make New Attempt To Change Maryland's State Song State lawmakers have attempted to repeal or replace the song at least 10 times, to no avail.
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NPR logo Montgomery County Lawmakers Make New Attempt To Change Maryland's State Song

Montgomery County Lawmakers Make New Attempt To Change Maryland's State Song

Montgomery County Council wants to ban the state song from the county and urges state lawmakers to ban it from the state. Tyrone Turner/WAMU hide caption

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Tyrone Turner/WAMU

The Montgomery County Council introduced a resolution Tuesday to urge state lawmakers to change the lyrics to Maryland's state song, "Maryland My Maryland," and ban it from being played at county events.

The song — set to the tune of "O Christmas Tree" — is based on the poem written in 1861 by James Ryder Randall to support the Confederate efforts to fight Union militias in Baltimore. It has been the official state song for more than 75 years. State lawmakers have attempted to repeal or replace the song at least 10 times, to no avail.

Montgomery County Councilman Will Jawando said Tuesday that while the measure is a good first step, it doesn't address the root issue of racial injustice and inequality. In his view, ceasing to use the song is a step toward accurately portraying history that has long celebrated the losing side of the Civil War.

"This is something that is just the beginning of the correction and the retelling of history in the right way," Jawando told his colleagues. "But remember, we're doing that not just because we should do it, we're doing it because you must understand it [history] if you're to understand where we are right now."

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House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore County), Maryland's first Black woman to serve in the position, also wants to change the state song.

"It's extremely offensive," Jones told the Baltimore Sun last month. "People just hear the words, 'Maryland, My Maryland.' But if you look at the words, it's not something you want to hail as the song for the state."

Jones's calls to change the state song came after she successfully petitioned the Maryland State House Trust for the second consecutive year to remove a plaque in Maryland's Capitol building honoring the Civil War's Union and Confederate soldiers.

In 2016, then-Senate President Emeritus Mike Miller said he wanted to keep some of the original lyrics that honored Maryland's heroes of the American Revolution.

State lawmakers will attempt to repeal or replace the song again during the 2021 legislative session. The council is expected to hold a public hearing on the measure to ban the song in the county next week.

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