The National Football League announced this week that the song “Lift Every Voice And Sing," also referred to as the Black national anthem, will be played before every game during the 2021 NFL season.
The NFL wants to create more conversations about social justice. In addition to playing the anthem, players will be encouraged to put decals on their helmets to shed light on causes they support.
What is the Black National Anthem?
“Lift Every Voice And Sing" was originally a poem written by James Weldon Johnson in 1899. On February 12, 1900, hundreds of children from an elementary school in Jacksonville, Florida, as part of a celebration for Abraham Lincoln's birthday. In 1905, James Weldon Johnson's brother, John Rosamond Johnson, set the poem to music to create the anthem that it is today.
As a way to address the mission of inclusion, the NFL has decided that the Black national anthem will be played along with the National Anthem of the United States.
The NFL also wants to include the song as part of a campaign the league started last season to tackle social justice issues throughout the United States. Each stadium will also show video PSAs featuring NFL players who will narrate stories.
Here are the lyrics of the Black national anthem:
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.
Stony the road we trod, Bitter the chastening rod, Felt in the days when hope unborn had died; Yet with a steady beat, Have not our weary feet Come to the place for which our fathers sighed? We have come over a way that with tears has been watered, We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered, Out from the gloomy past, Till now we stand at last, Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
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, Lest, 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.