ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland General Assembly voted on Monday to say goodbye to “Maryland, My Maryland,” the state song that has been criticized for racist and controversial language. Some Mid-Shore lawmakers think the song should stay.
Del. Johnny Mautz, R-37B-Talbot, said while he understands people’s criticisms of the song, he doesn’t think they justify tossing the anthem. Mautz, along with several other Mid-Shore legislators, cast his vote against the bill that seeks to repeal it.
The bill is intentionally straightforward in its goal to axe the Civil War-era state song based on critiques that it’s inappropriate for its ties to the Confederacy and racist ideals. The song calls Abraham Lincoln a “despot” and refers to those who opposed slavery as “northern scum.”
“I appreciate the criticisms of the song, and it’s fine to criticize things, but that doesn’t mean you have to get rid of them,” Mautz said in an interview. He said concerns about the state song “don’t rise to the level of justifying its repeal.”
Sen. Cheryl Kagan, the bill’s sponsor and a Democrat from Montgomery County, said this year “it’s finally time” to “repeal Maryland’s Confederate themed state song.” Kagan has tried unsuccessfully for several years to get a similar bill passed.
This year it passed 95-38 in the Maryland House and 45-0 in the Senate. It now goes to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk for approval. If signed by the governor, it would go into effect July 1, 2021. The legislation does not include a process for replacing the song once repealed.
Kagan said of her bill’s passage that while it’s “far from the most important policy ... this year,” the measure is “symbolic and long overdue.”
Though Kagan’s legislation ultimately got the green light from Maryland’s Democratic-majority legislature, not all lawmakers were on board with the idea, and nearly all of the Mid-Shore’s delegates joined Mautz in voting against it.
Delegates Steve Arentz, Jay Jacobs, Chris Adams and Jeff Ghrist, all Republicans representing Mid-Shore districts, voted to keep the song. Three Mid-Shore lawmakers — Republican Senators Steve Hershey and Addie Eckardt, and Democratic Del. Sheree Sample-Hughes — voted to toss it.
Hogan has not publicly voiced his stance on the state song — so whether the bill will be signed into law after the legislative session ends on April 12 remains to be seen.