Maryland, oh my! Maryland

August 16, 2017

University of Maryland student Brady O’Shea makes the case that the school needs to stop singing a pro-Confederate song as its anthem.

THE COLLEGE football season is fast approaching. Our Terrapins are set to have their first home game of the season on September 9, against Towson.

This article isn't about the game of football, rather, this is about the racist vestige of the Civil War that is still blared loudly into the ears of every attendee of the University of Maryland (UMD) home games, "Maryland, My Maryland."

"Maryland, My Maryland" is a Confederate ballad that glorifies the cause of the slaveholding Confederacy against the "tyrant" Abraham Lincoln and is the official song of the state of Maryland. Some may recognize the song when it's sung at the Preakness Stakes, however the only verse that's sung there is the one verse out of the nine that won't offend most modern sensibilities. I would suggest that the reader take the time to read a full poem and check out this breakdown of the song's meaning published in the Carroll County Times.

The poem was written by James Ryder Randall in 1861 after the great Baltimore riot. This battle came directly after the Battle of Fort Sumter and consisted of an attack by Confederate sympathizers and those who favored appeasement of the Confederacy upon a regiment of union soldiers deployed to protect the Capitol.

Giant Maryland flags in the stands at a UMD football game
Giant Maryland flags in the stands at a UMD football game

The song itself refers to Abraham Lincoln as a "despot," "tyrant" and a "vandal." The song calls for Marylanders to take up arms against the Union Army, or as Randall prefers to call them "Northern Scum," and compares the cause of the Confederacy to that of the American revolutionaries.

Randall even calls for the assassination of Lincoln in the song when he proclaims that "Sic Semper" will be the rallying cry of the confederates, a shortening of "Sic semper evello mortem tyrannis." (Thus I always bring death to tyrants.) "Sic semper tyrannis" would be what Marylander John Wilkes Booth shouted after he mortally wounded Abraham Lincoln in Ford's Theater.

Randall even trumpets in the eighth verse that it would be better for Maryland to be shot to pieces in the war than face "Crucifixion of the soul"--in other words, the loss of Maryland's "honor," "glory" and of course, slaves.

THIS SONG was the battle hymn of a group of rebellious states whose economic interests lay in continuing the brutal, inhumane and indefensible system of chattel slavery. There is no glory in the brutality of this system. There is no honor in the atrocities for which the confederacy was fighting to defend.

This song only became the official song of the state of Maryland on August 29, 1939, during the era of Jim Crow, in the same vein as laws throughout the South that invoked a revisionist history of the Confederacy and brazenly continued their policies of open racist segregation.

Having this song played during our football games both in its full instrumental form, and to herald the playing of our Alma Mater is unacceptable. This is especially true in light of the torch-wielding protests of modern-day Confederate sympathizers in New Orleans and Charlottesville that aim to violently intimidate those who attempt to remove the statues that glorify the indefensible.

The playing of this song is particularly insulting to the memory of Richard Collins III, a lieutenant in the same army that slaves, who escaped from the fetters that held them, bravely fought and died in so that they and their people might be liberated, the same army called "Northern Scum" by Randall in the song. Collins was murdered in cold blood by a racist, white UMD student who was trying to win his own civil war.

By continuing to play this song during our football games, we can see that the administration is merely trying to silence dissent when it talks about "reconciliation" and "improving race relations." The effort needed to end the playing of this vile song is tantamount to that needed for UMD President Wallace Loh to order a pizza, and should have been undertaken decades ago.

The real racist soil of this university, once worked by slaves, remains to be turned into the light of day, and is instead buried under a growing pile of bull manure.

If we are to truly rid our university and our state of the plague of racism that haunts it, than we must build movements that can go to the roots of the racism that infects our society, pull them from the ground, and leave them out in the sun to dry up and die.

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