Oregon Lawmakers Approve Changes to 94-Year-Old State Song

Oregon lawmakers authorised new lyrics for his or her state music this week, eradicating language that activists known as racist and saying the music ought to mirror how Oregon has modified within the 94 years because it was adopted.

The decision, which the State Senate handed 23-5 on Monday, would protect the music of the state music, “Oregon, My Oregon,” however change the lyrics to mirror the “significant cultural, historical, economic and societal evolution in Oregon,” in accordance to its textual content.

The modifications embrace swapping the primary verse of the music, which was written by John A. Buchanan with music by Henry B. Murtagh. Its authentic lyrics when it was first adopted in 1927 included the traces, “land of empire builders, land of the golden West; conquered and held by free men; fairest and the best.” Those would get replaced by, “land of majestic mountains, land of the great Northwest; forests and rolling rivers, grandest and the best.”

Modified lyrics would additionally exchange a piece within the second verse, in order that “blest by the blood of martyrs” turns into “blessed by the love of freedom.”

After its passage within the Legislature this week, the decision was filed on Wednesday to the workplace of Oregon’s secretary of state, Shemia Fagan, a spokeswoman stated.

The change within the lyrics follows nationwide protests final yr in opposition to racial injustice, in addition to pushes in cities and states to rethink Confederate and colonial-era monuments and symbols.

In the decision, lawmakers put the proposal in context of “an active and ongoing national movement to secure truly equal treatment for peoples of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.”

Native folks had lived in Oregon “from time immemorial,” the lawmakers wrote, and Black and Chinese folks had “suffered from de jure exclusion in the early decades of Oregon’s statehood.”

The lawmakers alluded to concern amongst musical teams concerning the authentic lyrics, saying that “many musicians, bands and choral groups would like to perform the Oregon state song but do not feel it is appropriate to present the current lyrics in public.”

“Oregonians of all backgrounds deserve an inclusive way to celebrate our great state in song,” the decision stated.

The new lyrics had been proposed and written by Amy Donna Shapiro, a musician in Beaverton, Ore., who had been advocating adjustments to the music for years.

“I didn’t like the song and I didn’t like the words,” Ms. Shapiro stated in an interview on Wednesday. Recalling her days working as a music instructor and choir director, she stated she had been reluctant to train the unique music due to its lyrics.

In testimony in assist of the decision, she wrote that the music’s authentic lyrics had been “outdated, misleading and offensive words glorifying oppression and murder.”

She stated she needed the brand new lyrics to have fun Oregon’s magnificence by referring to its mountains and forests.

Ms. Shapiro watched on her laptop computer on Monday when the Legislature voted in favor of the brand new lyrics. “I was overjoyed,” she stated. “I couldn’t believe it. We shouldn’t have a racist song.”

Kim Stafford, Oregon’s poet laureate from 2018 to 2020, additionally supported the decision.

In a letter to legislators in February, Mr. Stafford wrote that the state music “includes racist and exclusionary language from a more primitive time in our state’s history.”

He stated that “the existing state song is crowded with clichés and generic phrases not sufficient for the true identity of Oregon.” He added that “to have generations of young people in Oregon sing this kind of language is an insult to them, to Oregon, and to the true power of song to tell truth, to specify deep identity, and to inspire.”

State Representative Sheri Schouten stated on Wednesday that she supported the decision as a result of she needed youngsters “to be able to learn their state song again.”

“All Oregonians, of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, deserve a state song they can sing with pride and affection,” she stated.