Oregon state song gets new lyrics without what some consider racist language

One woman managed to change the lyrics to our state song “Oregon My Oregon”. When you sit at home and complain about not seeing change at the political level, remember this story, one woman was able to change our state song on her own. In ten years we will have nothing left of who we were, just new rewritten history by liberal-socialist Democrats. STAND UP OREGON

By Samantha Swindler | The Oregonian/OregonLive

“The changes we have proposed are small but they are profound,” Shapiro wrote in testimony submitted for the measure. “Outdated, misleading, and offensive words glorifying oppression and murder are replaced with inspiring words glorifying Oregon’s natural beauty – majestic mountains, forests, and rivers – as well as our love of freedom.”

The Oregon Legislature on Monday approved changes to the lyrics of Oregon’s state song to make them more inclusive and to remove racist language.

House Concurrent Resolution 11 modifies the lyrics, while keeping the same music of “Oregon, My Oregon,” to reflect the “significant cultural, historical, economic and societal evolution in Oregon” since the state song was adopted in 1927.

The change replaces the first verse of the song, which referred to Oregon as “conquered and held by free men; fairest and the best,” with new lyrics emphasizing Oregon’s natural beauty and “rolling rivers.”


Along with other small changes throughout, a line in the second verse that described Oregon as “blest by the blood of martyrs” will now be sung, “blessed by the love of freedom.”

The state song was written more than 100 years ago. In 1919, the Society of Oregon Composers held a contest for poets to submit their compositions “in which the beauties and the merits of the state are extolled,” according to an Oregonian article at the time. The winning song “would be used at all public, patriotic and social gatherings.”

The winning entry was No. 163, written by judge and former state representative J.A. Buchanan of Astoria. Henry Bernard Murtagh composed the music, and “Oregon, My Oregon” became the official state song by a legislative vote in 1927.

Many Oregonians may not realize the state even has a state song. It’s not often sung, though it is performed during opening ceremonies for each legislative session.

The new lyrics were proposed by Beaverton resident Amy Shapiro. For years, Shapiro has been trying to get legislators to change the song, which she first hesitated to sing with her students when she worked as a music teacher and choir director at Portland Jewish Academy 30 years ago.

“The changes we have proposed are small but they are profound,” Shapiro wrote in testimony submitted for the measure. “Outdated, misleading and offensive words glorifying oppression and murder are replaced with inspiring words glorifying Oregon’s natural beauty – majestic mountains, forests and rivers – as well as our love of freedom.”

Among those who submitted testimony in favor of changing the lyrics was Kim Stafford, Oregon’s Poet Laureate from 2018 to 2020.

“The existing state song … includes racist and exclusionary language from a more primitive time in our state’s history,” Stafford wrote. “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.”

“It needed to be changed or no one was going to keep singing it,” she said. “If we do it this way, people will love it and sing it. We’re not erasing history, we’re saving history.”

Shapiro said she was excited to see school children sing her new lyrics and offered to help teach the song to classrooms around the state.

The resolution passed the Oregon House in April, with a vote of 47-6. Vikki Breese-Iverson, Jami Cate, Cedric Hayden, Bill Post, E. Werner Reschke and Greg Smith voted against. In the Oregon Senate, it passed with a vote of 23-5, with Brian Boquist, Lynn Findley, Dallas Heard, Art Robinson and Chuck Thomsen voting against.

The resolution now heads to Gov. Kate Brown’s desk for her signature.

https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2021/06/oregon-state-song-gets-new-lyrics-without-racist-language.html