New Song Won't Carry Back to Old Virginia State Senate Votes to Drop Slavery References in `Carry Me Back'

Article excerpt

After years of turning back attempts to change the racially offensive lyrics of "Carry Me Back to Old Virginia," the Virginia Senate has decided to rewrite the official state song.

Former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder had complained about the song's references to slavery as far back as 1970, when he was a freshman state senator. Although the House agreed to new lyrics as recently as 1991, bills changing the song always died in the Senate.

But Monday, by a t 35-2 vote, senators approved a bill that excises the words "darkey," "massa" and "missis" from the song while maintaining most of its other lyrics. The bill now goes to the House.

"It's a great opportunity for us to put a lot of the past behind us," said Sen. Madison E. Marye, D-Montgomery, the sponsor of this year's bill. "This is the new Virginia, but it's an old song that will fit the new Virginia."

aJames A. Bland, a black New York minstrel who never set foot in Virginia, composed "Carry Me Back" after the Civil War. …