Racism in one corner, and a suggestion of regional bias in another

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Friday, January 21, 2011; 8:02 PM

In his Jan. 20 letter, Roderick S. Speer of Alexandria wrote that he "discovered" that the "original words" in "Hail to the Redskins" were "fight for old Dixie," rather than "fight for old D.C."

This is such a common misconception that I'd like to correct it once and for all. The original line in that greatest of all marching songs, written and scored in 1938 by Barnee Breeskin and Corinne Griffith, the wife of Washington Redskins owner George Preston Marshall, was "fight for old D.C." Only in 1959 did Marshall change it to "old Dixie," most likely to stick it to those complaining about the Redskins' lily-white roster and to further cement his team's popularity as the then-southernmost NFL franchise.

"Old Dixie" lasted only three years, until the arrival of Bobby Mitchell, John Nisby and other black players in 1962 rendered the words too much of an embarrassment even for Marshall. The line reverted to "fight for old D.C." Redskins game programs from 1958, 1959 and 1962 confirm this chronology.

And as one final note - take it for what you will - during those three "Dixie" years, the Redskins' combined record was 5 wins, 30 losses and 3 ties. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman himself couldn't have done a better job of destruction.

Andy Moursund, Kensington

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Despite your multistate service area, you continue to feature the University of Maryland more than other schools in basketball coverage. Your preview issue started with Maryland, which is not ranked in the top 20, and featured the Maryland women before you previewed Georgetown, the only team in the region that was ranked in the top 20.

On Jan. 16, Maryland's loss the day before was covered on the Sports section front, while Georgetown's win was played inside. Please be fair with your coverage and stop showing favoritism.

Kathleen Kitzinger, Bethesda


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