America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization is applauding an effort by the House speaker to repeal the state song, “Maryland, My Maryland,” in the new General Assembly session.
“It contains pro-Confederacy themes that unfortunately do reflect some of the most problematic stained chapters of our nation’s history,” said Zainab Chaudry, director of the Maryland office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The song is based on a poem from 1861, and it refers to President Abraham Lincoln as a “tyrant” and “despot” and refers to the Union as “Northern scum.”
Chaudry said that there is a way to remember that history, but that doesn’t amplify and celebrate it.
Maryland’s state song has been a point of contention for years, but Chaudry believes this year something can be done about it.
“I think now the House speaker, Speaker Adrienne Jones, has the support she needs to move this forward,” Chaudry said.
Jones is the first African-American and woman to be speaker in the Maryland House of Delegates.
“We applaud Speaker Jones for her courage and her commitment to make sure that this is removed from the state legislature,” Chaudry said.
Chaudry also is encouraged by recent developments, such as the removal of Confederate monuments in Virginia; a call to change the flag in Albany, New York; and a push in South Carolina to get Confederate battle flags off license plates.
Chaudry said these elements reflect a society’s values.
“We’re seeing this wave sweep across the country in different states, and I think it’s reflective to the fact that we’re in the midst of a racial reckoning in America and communities are waking up,” Chaudry said, adding that lawmakers are putting support in measures that acknowledge and address the racist elements within society.