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Virginia Votes To Retire State’s Song

Tue., Feb. 18, 1997

Not a single discordant note was sounded Monday as Virginia’s House of Delegates voted to retire a state song that critics say glorifies slavery with words like “darkey” and “massa.”

The House voted 100-0 to make “Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” the state song emeritus. There was no debate.

“This puts the song where it belongs - in history - and it won’t be troubling us any further,” said Del. William P. Robinson Jr., D-Norfolk.

The first repeal attempt was made in 1970 by then-state Sen. L. Douglas Wilder, a grandson of slaves who became the nation’s first elected black governor.

This year, lawmakers were persuaded by arguments that the song is so offensive, it’s no longer taught to schoolchildren and hasn’t been performed at an official state function in two decades.

The Senate, which approved the measure, now must consider the House version, which doesn’t include a provision calling for a special commission to find a new state song.


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