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Press Releases - County Council

Montgomery County Council calls on Maryland General Assembly to replace “Maryland, My Maryland” as state song and discourage its use at official Montgomery County events

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Rockville, Md., July 28, 2020—Today the Montgomery County Council unanimously approved a resolution calling on the Maryland General Assembly to replace the state song “Maryland, My Maryland” and discourage its use at official Montgomery County events including public school events and graduations. Many Maryland residents, including those who live in Montgomery County, identify the official state song as a symbol of the Confederacy. All members of the Council are sponsoring this resolution which was initiated by Councilmember Evan Glass, and co-led with Councilmembers Gabe Albornoz, Will Jawando, Hans Riemer and Council President Sidney Katz.

The lyrics of “Maryland, My Maryland” are from a nine-stanza poem written in 1861 by Confederacy-supporter James Ryder Randall and set to the melody of “Lauriger Horatius,” which is otherwise known as “O Tannenbaum.” The words call for Marylanders to fight against the U.S. and was used across the Confederacy as a battle hymn.

“Now is the time for introspection and to recognize how our laws, regulations and policies have contributed to decades and centuries of structural racism,” Councilmember Evan Glass said. “The Maryland state song is yet another example of a false and offensive glorification of the Confederacy, an antiquated ideology of division and hate, which has no place here in Montgomery County or the state of Maryland. We need a state song that unites us and celebrates the beautiful diversity that exists in Maryland.”

Council President Sidney Katz said: “I join my colleagues on the Montgomery County Council in urging the Maryland General Assembly to change the Maryland state song. ‘Maryland, My Maryland’ does not represent who we are as residents of this extraordinary state. I support the prohibition of this song being played at any official event in the county, and I urge state leaders to move swiftly to implement this much needed change.”

“Our state’s song has long been a hurtful embarrassment,” said Council Vice President Tom Hucker. “This is the latest of many efforts to make long overdue changes to the song to reflect our state’s values. This must be the year we finally change it.”

Councilmember Gabe Albornoz said: “The beginning of a new decade has brought forth unexpected change and has forced us to reflect upon our historical past of institutional racism. I join my colleagues in the prohibition of the Maryland state song being played during County events and urge our Maryland lawmakers to do the same. Change represents progress and is an important step forward toward a more inclusive society.”

“Our official state song is a vestige of a shameful past,” said Councilmember Will Jawando. “The current song is better off in our history books as a glaring symbol of the systemic racism in our state government and civil structure that puts Marylanders of color at a disadvantage. The Maryland state song should project today’s values of inclusion and anti-racism, and celebrate the diversity that makes Maryland our home.”

“The Maryland state song should be one that reflects our values as a diverse and welcoming community, not one steeped in divisiveness, racism and hatred,” Councilmember Craig Rice said. “I look forward to working with my former colleagues in the State legislature to remove the current state song and replace it with an anthem that rings true for its residents.

Councilmember Hans Riemer said: “As we focus our work on undoing the impacts of 400 years of racist policies, it is important to remove symbols that glorify racist ideologies as well. Unfortunately, our Maryland state song falls into that category and must be changed.”

Councilmember Nancy Navarro said: “I am proud to lend my name to today’s resolution - it is time that we acknowledge that not every part of our state’s storied history needs to be publicly celebrated. ‘Maryland, My Maryland’ was conceived as a call to secession, and was sung by armies seeking to tear apart our great Union. While change is always difficult, we should not cling to the symbols of traitors who fought specifically to preserve the institution of slavery. We in Maryland must acknowledge our past and recommit ourselves to making a better tomorrow.” 

“As we work to dismantle the structures that perpetuate institutional racism, we must also address symbols such as official songs that normalize it,” said Councilmember Andrew Friedson. “It’s hurtful, harmful, and wholly indefensible for government at any level to sanction an official song that glorifies the Confederacy or in any form or fashion legitimizes the evil act of slavery.”

The Maryland General Assembly adopted “Maryland, My Maryland” as the state song on April 29, 1939. Since 1974, there have been multiple unsuccessful efforts by state leaders to revise the lyrics to the song or to repeal or replace the song altogether.  Most recently, a bill was filed in the Maryland House of Delegates during the 2020 legislative session to appoint an advisory panel to review public submissions and suggestions for a new state song; however, the bill did not advance past the hearing stage because the General Assembly adjourned early because of Covid-19.  

The Council resolution to replace “Maryland, My Maryland” can be viewed here. The full lyrics to the song can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/OfficialStateSong.

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Release ID: 20-328
Media Contact: Valeria Carranza 240-777-7966