“Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” is a hymn written by two brothers, James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson, in the late 19th Century, and it has been known as “The Black National Anthem” for more than a century.
In fact, the first reference I can find to it being called the “Negro National Anthem” is in a 1918 issue of the Omaha, Neb., Monitor, a weekly Black newspaper:
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People popularized the term “the Negro national anthem” one year later and appointed James Johnson the executive secretary of the NAACP in 1920.
The lyrics are anything but controversial. Inspired by the Book of Exodus, the hymn is patriotic and religious, and a cry for equality and freedom for all:
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.
If you’ve ever been to a Black church during a public holiday, or a Black veteran’s funeral, you’ve probably heard the song. It was performed at President Obama’s first inauguration and is regularly sung at civil rights celebrations.
(It’s not just sung in predominantly Black churches. It’s in the Episcopalian and United Methodist hymnals as well, as Hymn No. 599 and Hymn No. 519, respectively, and in the Presbyterian hymnal, Glory to God, at 339. It’s sung in Catholic churches, too, by “overwhelmingly white Catholic worshipping assemblies,” as theologian and writer Eric T. Styles wrote in 2021 in America, a Jesuit magazine.)
Since February is Black History Month, and since the NFL — a league in which 58 percent of the players are Black — has been featuring the hymn at significant events for two years, it shouldn’t even be remotely controversial that a Black actress, Sheryl Lee Ralph, performed it last night at Super Bowl LVII.
But that doesn’t count on the ignorance, stupidity and barely concealed racism of America’s most-persecuted and victimized minority group, Republican morons on social media.
So: What Are Republicans Bitching About Today?
Why, the “Black National Anthem,” which none of them have ever heard of:
“That other song,” says alleged journalist Todd Starnes, who doesn’t even know what it is.
(Also, I totally believe that N76247476 — who has 82,800 followers! — is a real human being, and is a Black Republican, but then again, I also believe that a bunny brings me jelly beans and cream eggs every Easter.)
Maybe when these dumb-dumbs are done removing all of the books about Black history from the school libraries, they should open a few of them and read them.
If anyone has ever made a strong case for why more, not less, Black history needs to be taught, it’s bozos like these.
Fun fact — the “Star-Spangled Banner” was not officially adopted as the national anthem of the United States of America until 1931, more than a decade after the NAACP declared “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” to be the “Negro national anthem.”
In that regard, perhaps “Lift Ev’ry Voice” is the original American national anthem, and we shouldn’t be singing a poem about the War of 1812 that’s set to the tune of a British drinking song about pagan gods and goddesses debauching themselves and one another.
It would be funny if it wasn’t just more evidence that an awful lot of white folks on the right-wing would prefer that Black Americans were only seen and not heard — and, preferably, not seen, either.
Pittsburgh’s own Wendy Bell chimes in:
Some people on the Internet are hard on dear Wendy, but I’m not. Frankly, I give her a lot of credit for being able to post on Twitter while looking through the eye-holes of her hood.
UPDATE: I missed this little story from IUP in which a student on Snapchat allegedly said Black people “don’t deserve your own national anthem” at a campus sporting event. Only, uh, they didn’t say “Black people.” The racist dog-whistles are becoming racist air-raid sirens.