On Wednesday afternoon, the Maryland House Health and Government Operations Committee room was full of song.
Committee members listened to – and participated in – possible new lyrics for the current state song, “Maryland, My Maryland,” which was adopted in 1939.
“This is not a new topic,” said Delegate Karen Young, D-Frederick. “This is the eighth time we’ve revisited this song.”
Young said the “highly objectionable” song promoted Confederate values, criticizing Union advocates and President Abraham Lincoln, and plays a divisive role in the state today.
Sen. Cheryl Kagan, D-Montgomery, proposed the Senate version of the bill and wants to replace the current song with a “new, more inclusive, contemporary and memorable state song,” according to a press release. Delegates Christopher West, R-Baltimore County, and Terri Hill, D-Howard and Baltimore Counties sponsored a similar bill in the House.
Jay Barringer, the commander of the Maryland Sons of Confederate Veterans, said no moments in history come without controversy, and Marylanders should appreciate the history of their state.
“Do we want another dry dissertation of geographical features as our state song, which can be applied to half of the states?” Barringer said. “Getting rid of this song would whitewash the unique history of the state and put it on the gallows of historical cleansing.”
If passed, the bill would establish a selection panel made up of members of the Maryland State Arts Council, who will hold a competition to decide the next state song. The winner would be proposed via legislation in the 2017 General Assembly session.
By Jessica Campisi