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Preakness ends playing of 'extremely offensive' state song

BALTIMORE (AP) — The official state song “Maryland, My Maryland” will not be performed before the Preakness next month because the lyrics are perceived by some to be racist. A spokesperson for Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness, said Friday the tradition of playing the song before the race will be scrapped on Oct. 3, when the Triple Crown series comes to Baltimore.

The action is a follow-up of a statement by Maryland Jockey Club on June 25 in response to Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones’ move to abolish “Maryland, My Maryland” as the state song due to its roots to the Confederacy during the Civil War.

“The Maryland Jockey Club is respectful and supportive of Speaker Jones’ move to remove “Maryland My Maryland” as the state song, and we look forward to starting a new tradition for Preakness 145,” the statement read.

The song was written by James Ryder Randall as a poem in 1861. The poem’s opening line is “The despot’s heel is on thy shore,” a reference to President Abraham Lincoln. The lyrics include “Avenge the patriotic gore… That flecked the streets of Baltimore,” and later refers to the Union as “Northern scum!”

“It’s extremely offensive” Jones told The Baltimore Sun. “People just hear the words, ‘Maryland, My Maryland.’ But if you look at the words, it’s not something you want to hail as the song for the state.”

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