Like everything, the playing of “My Old Kentucky Home” at the Derby will be a little different this year. This afternoon, Churchill Downs Senior Director of Media Services Darren Rogers tweeted that “My Old Kentucky Home” WILL be played before tomorrow’s Derby, but the tradition will be modified and preceded by a moment of silence and reflection.
According to BloodHorse Magazine, the racetrack had been weighing whether or not to play the song amid nationwide calls for social justice and heightened tensions in Louisville following the police shooting of Breonna Taylor. Penned by Stephen Foster in the 1850s, “My Old Kentucky Home” is the official state song of Kentucky and has been a part of every Derby since the 1920s. It tells the story of a slave who was shipped off to the deep South and yearns to be back with his family in Kentucky, following the same story arc of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
Outside of Churchill Downs, thousands of people are expected to gather tomorrow to demand justice for Taylor, who was fatally shot by police in her apartment 175 days ago.