As my family sat to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday night, we hit the pre-game festivities just in time for the performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is also known as the black national anthem.
The song was performed by Sheryl Lee Ralph, who stars in the sitcom Abbott Elementary. This wasn’t the first time the song was performed before the Super Bowl. The NFL has been playing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” since the 2020 season, following the death of George Floyd, and Sunday night marks the third consecutive year that “Lift Every Voice and Sing” has been performed at the Super Bowl.
NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson wrote “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as a poem back in 1900, and his brother, John Rosamond Johnson, wrote the music for the lyrics, explains the NAACP. “A choir of 500 schoolchildren at the segregated Stanton School, where James Weldon Johnson was principal, first performed the song in public in Jacksonville, Florida to celebrate President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.”
During the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, the NAACP took the song and used it as a rallying cry.
I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with the song, or that it doesn’t have its place. I’m just saying that its place is not at sporting events or other functions as a supplement to the national anthem. And I’m not alone.
“America only has ONE NATIONAL ANTHEM,” Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) tweeted. “Why is the NFL trying to divide us by playing multiple!? Do football, not wokeness.”
“The @NFL is going to play a black national anthem before the Super Bowl,” actor Kevin Sorbo tweeted. “Seems racist and divisive.”
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It’s not only voices on the right taking issue with the performance of the song either. For example, left-wing comedian Bill Maher doesn’t like that the so-called “black national anthem” being sung at sporting events.
“Now maybe we should get rid of our national anthem,” he said back in 2021. “But I think we should have one national anthem. I think when you go down a road where you’re having two different national anthems, colleges sometimes now have different graduation ceremonies for Black and white, separate dorms… This is what I mean: Segregation! You’ve inverted the idea. We’re going back to that under a different name.”
He’s right. Boebert is right. Sorbo is right. It’s disgusting the way the NFL is deliberately dividing the country, under the banner of “social justice” and “inclusivity.”
There is only room for one national anthem, and performing a “black national anthem” is divisive. It sends the message that black Americans are not a part of this country. It also otherizes minorities by suggesting that they need their own national song.
Enough is enough already. We shouldn’t be dividing our country by giving individual groups their own “national” anthem and expecting them all to be played. What’s next? An LGBT national anthem? An immigrant national anthem? We have to put a stop to this and unite as Americans behind one flag, one song, and one national identity.
.@ChrisStapleton brings the house down with his performance of the National Anthem! #SBLVII pic.twitter.com/iiRzjVcByW
— NFL (@NFL) February 12, 2023