By John A. O'Brien
Monday, April 19, 2021
“Maryland, My Maryland” was written in the early days of the Civil War by James Randall. He was working in New Orleans at the time and wanted to urge his native state to join with Virginia in secession. The tyrant Lincoln was the despot with "his heel on thy shore." Randall cheers the decision he desires, "Huzza! she spurns the Northern scum!" All this is necessary to "avenge the patriotic gore that flecked the streets of Baltimore." Wait! Whose gore? The Union troops who were attacked as they marched to protect Washington, or the local thugs who did the attacking? That this was the official state song since 1939 reminds us of just how close Maryland came to joining the Confederacy.
This is the year when "Maryland, My Maryland" lost its official status. The vote in the legislature was bi-partisan and lopsided. The importance of dispensing with this relic of "Lost Cause" sentiment is not hard to appreciate. But why did it take so long?
Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan (D-Montgomery) had sponsored a bill to repeal or replace the song for three years. She said its passage illustrates a new era in the General Assembly. This year’s legislation seems to have been framed by the racial reckoning launched by the recent wave of social justice protests.
House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County), the first Black woman to serve in that role, placed the state song legislation at the top of her party’s agenda last year, announcing she wanted the song gone. Jones succeeded longtime House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel), who died in 2019. Senate President Bill Ferguson succeeded Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), the longest serving state Senate president in U.S. history. “Symbols matter,” Ferguson said. “We have to move forward.”
(Quotes are from the Washington Post article by Ovetta Wiggins on March 22, 2021)