The Black National Anthem
Updated: Jun 26
The Super Bowl stirs up controversy about the official American national anthem every year. Athletes kneel, networks discuss, fans get angry. It has long been known that The Star Spangled Banner does not resonate with, or speak for, all Americans. Not only does its reference to "the land of the free" willfully ignore the fact that this country was built by stolen people on stolen land, but its little-known (and rarely performed) third verse marks the song as as a white supremacist anthem. The man who penned it enslaved Black people, so it's not all that surprising. So why don't we pick something new? This question has begun circulating more and more in recent years. But did you know that an entire community in the United States recognizes a different anthem as their own already? It's the Black National Anthem: "Lift Very Voice and Sing." Here's two versions fr you to listen to, one by Aretha Franklin and one by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. How incredible is the scope of Black influence in music (and in general)?
Lift every voice and sing Till earth and heaven ring Ring with the harmonies of Liberty Let our rejoicing rise High as the listening skies Let it resound loud as the rolling sea
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us Facing the rising sun of our new day begun Let us march on till victory is won
You may have heard it for the first time during the Super Bowl this year, when Alicia Keys performed it. It is not hard to understand why this anthem resonates with the Black community. It is full of hope, and simultaneously recognizes the struggles of the past while calling for strength in the present. It truly speaks to the power of the people: every person, every voice. For more history on the song, check out this youtube video.