The University of Maryland is suspending playing “Maryland, My Maryland” at sporting events, citing the need to evaluate the state song’s pro-Confederate lyrics, a spokeswoman for the school said.
“As part of the university’s efforts to reaffirm our values as a campus community, we are assessing the songs that are played at Intercollegiate Athletic events,” U-Md. spokeswoman Katie Lawson said in a statement. “We are suspending the playing of ‘Maryland, My Maryland’ to evaluate if it is consistent with the values of our institution at this time.”
The Civil War-era “Maryland, My Maryland,” with lyrics that mention “Northern scum,” has previously been the subject of debate. The song is set to the tune of “Lauriger Horatius,” more commonly known as “O Tannenbaum.”
The Mighty Sound of Maryland, the university’s marching band, has played “Maryland, My Maryland” during its pregame performance at football games, athletic department spokesman Zack Bolno said. It is not played at basketball games.
According to U-Md.’s student newspaper, the Diamondback, the university’s director of athletic bands, Eli Osterloh, said the events in Charlottesville, earlier this month led officials to start discussions about the song. Osterloh’s comments came in a Facebook message that was sent to members of the band, according to the student newspaper.
“As a result of the turmoil we all witnessed in Charlottesville, myself, the Athletic Department, and President’s Office began a dialogue concerning our state song,” Osterloh wrote. “After much discussion, we agreed that based on the history and lyrics of the song, it should be removed from the repertoire.”
The decision comes just weeks after self-described white nationalists carrying torches marched on the University of Virginia campus. After the torchlight march, on Aug. 12, white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan clashed with counterprotesters in Charlottesville. One person was killed and many more injured when a car plowed into a crowd that day.
“I think it’s incredible that we’ve been playing it for so long,” sophomore marching band member Ben Parrish told the Diamondback. “I can’t come up with a single reason for why the band should continue to play a song whose history is aligned with secession.”