What is the Black National Anthem? NFL decision to play ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ before openers slammed as divisive
‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ or the Black National Anthem is expected to be played or performed live before every week 1 NFL game this year
‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’, traditionally known as the Black National Anthem is a poem written by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson, which was later set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson in 1899, according to the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) website. The poem was first performed before the public in Florida on February 12, 1900, as a part of the former President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, by a choir of 500 schoolchildren at Stanton School, where James served as the principal. ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ was adopted by NAACP as its official song.
According to The Undefeated’s recent reports, ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ or the Black National Anthem is expected to be played or performed live before every week 1 NFL game this year. The league is also said to be considering various other measures in the upcoming season to recognize the victims of systemic racism, by collaborating with the NFL players association. Reportedly, the names of the victims will be added on the helmets and jersey patches of the players along with a few educational programs in the form of PSAs, talking about the victims and their families.
A source familiar with the league’s discussion told CNN on Thursday, July 3, that ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ will be played before the national anthem of the United States, ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ when the first game of the season will get nationally televised on September 10 when the Kansas City Chiefs will host the Houston Texans. However, people on the internet have expressed a rather different opinion about NFL’s measures to deal with racism and oppression. While the majority of them seem clueless about what the Black National Anthem is, the rest have noted that it isn’t contributing towards curbing systemic racism in any which way.
One twitter user wrote, “We dont give 2 cents about the Black National Anthem being @NFL games. @NFL please use your power and influence to help change laws, hiring practices & improve opportunities for minorities. #SMH”, while another added, “Black national anthem? Tell me this is a joke....”. Another surprised social media user wrote: "So the NFL is now going to play the "Black National Anthem" before every game.. Done... Absolutely DONE with these clowns.."
Meanwhile, some of the Twitter users have noted that there is no such thing as the Black National Anthem. "Blacks aren’t a separate nation. It’s just a random song, not the National Anthem.” read a tweet. Another read: "Nothing says "unity" like playing a separate National Anthem for black people and white people at NFL games." There are people with mixed emotions regarding the Black National Anthem as well, as one person wrote: "First, I’m disappointed but not surprised by how many white people have never heard of the Black national anthem. Second, I don’t think this is necessary. Black people are calling for substantive change, not symbolic gestures of support."
Once NFL made this announcement, it was obvious that references to Colin Kaepernick would also come up, considering their treatment of the athlete once he decided to take the knee. A Twitter asked: "Did I miss the 'XX team signs Kaepernick' headline that needed to precede this? Anybody get that tweet? Report: NFL to play black national anthem before season openers."