Montgomery Co. lawmakers mount new attempt to change state song with Confederate roots

Montgomery County lawmakers are renewing a push to retire Maryland’s state song, “Maryland, My Maryland,” for its lyrics supporting Confederate efforts to fight Union militias in the Civil War.

The Montgomery County Council will introduce a resolution Tuesday to replace the song or revise its lyrics, with the backdrop of nationwide protests against racism and police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd.

It became Maryland’s official state song in 1939.

The song was written by James Randall Ryder in response to the Pratt Street Riots that took place in Baltimore in 1861, a standoff between Union soldiers heading to D.C. to defend the White House and Confederate sympathizers.

It was Ryder’s way of supporting the Confederacy and includes lyrics that refer to President Abraham Lincoln as “the tyrant” and “the vandal,” and to the U.S. government as “northern scum.”

There have been numerous efforts to change the song’s lyrics, dating as far back as 1974. All have proved unsuccessful.

Most recently, a bill to appoint an advisory panel to review public submissions and suggestions for a new state song was filed in the house of delegates for the 2020 session.

It didn’t make it past the hearing stage because the General Assembly adjourned early due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the council said the wave of social justice demonstrations are a new window of opportunity to make the change.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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