The Preakness is finding a new tradition. For the first time since 1909, the song “Maryland, My Maryland” will not be played at the event.
The owners of the Maryland Jockey Club and Pimlico Race Course are making the change amid racial unrest following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. In the wake of Floyd’s death, there have been calls to take down monuments and statues that celebrate historical figures who represent slavery.
The song “Maryland, My Maryland” — which is also Maryland’s state song — contains lyrics that celebrate the Confederacy. One of its stanzas references President Abraham Lincoln as “the tyrant.” Another makes reference to “Northern scum.”
Typically, only the third stanza of “Maryland, My Maryland” is sung at the Preakness. Neither of those references occur in that stanza.
The Maryland Jockey Club stated in June that it would explore a new tradition at the Preakness. On Friday, they confirmed “Maryland, My Maryland” would not be played at the Preakness.
Maryland has pushed to change state song for years
The push to get rid of “Maryland, My Maryland” is not a new development. The Maryland Senate has attempted to change the state song twice. The first came in 2016, when the Senate wanted to completely replace the state song. The House did not vote on the issue.
In 2018, the Senate altered the bill to make “Maryland, My Maryland” a “historical state song,” according to the Washington Post. Again, the House did not vote on the bill.
Sen. Cheryl Kagan plans to reintroduce that legislature in 2021.
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