Perhaps it's time to play the Black National Anthem

Several years ago, my wife and I had the privilege of attending an annual gala event in our community honoring young black Americans in the area.  It was fun, and we were honored to attend.  I'd been invited by some friends due to my company's sponsorship of a national group that promotes STEM careers for black young people.  I'm white, but frankly, it was irrelevant to my perception of the evening.  In all, it was a wonderful night, with friends promoting something we all knew is worthwhile and noble: encouraging achievement and honoring real accomplishments.

An unexpected part of the evening came just after dinner.  A choir from a local HBC (Historically Black College) began a song I'd never heard and knew nothing about: "Lift Every Voice and Sing," or more euphemistically, "The Black National Anthem."

It was beautifully performed, and many people in the audience sang along.  A little research after we got home showed that the lyrics were written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson and were put to music by his brother only a few decades after slavery was outlawed. 

The ceremonies that night included the Pledge of Allegiance and honors for our local city council; the nearby military installation; and the evening's sponsoring corporations, most of whom were defense contractors large and small.

Fast-forward a few years.  Today, post-Ferguson, post-Trayvon Martin, post-Freddie Gray, America is not a place to be sung about anymore.  Rather, purportedly, we are a nation of white supremacy, racial suppression, and other similar pathologies.  America has been transformed into a place where black people are victims first and fellow authors in writing the long and noble story of the country second. 

Today prominent American sports figures, the vast majority of whom earn more in one six-month season than most of their fans will earn in a lifetime, have decided to signal their virtue by kneeling in front of the nation defiantly.  I have to wonder what black Americans were hoping for when the Black National Anthem was first performed.  Could it have ever included the hope that talented black men would be universally honored for their skills, compensated to the pinnacle of financial success, and celebrated the world over as heroes and role models?

Perhaps it's time to sing the Black National Anthem.  Perhaps it's time to hear what men and women recently emerged from slavery were really aspiring to achieve.  Perhaps it's time for some wealthy sports figures to read the last three lines of an American anthem everyone can agree with.

May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land

Thomas Lifson adds:

Perhaps President Trump could suggest to his pal Robert Kraft that it would be a nice gesture for his team to host a performance of "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" before games, in addition to the National Anthem.  It is outreach to the faith community if you read the poem by James Weldon Johnson (see below).  Trump could make the invaluable point that honoring each other must be the basis of going forward together, not dishonoring the nation.  And he could even allude to the noble origins of the song.  According to PBS:

Created by James Weldon Johnson, it was performed for the first time by 500 school children in celebration of President Lincoln's Birthday on February 12, 1900 in Jacksonville, FL. The poem was set to music by Johnson's brother, John Rosamond Johnson, and soon adopted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as its official song. Today "Lift Every Voice and Sing" is one of the most cherished songs of the African American Civil Rights Movement and is often referred to as 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 list'ning 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 chast'ning 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 hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast 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.

The implicit contrast to the current-day far-left NAACP is startling.

Several years ago, my wife and I had the privilege of attending an annual gala event in our community honoring young black Americans in the area.  It was fun, and we were honored to attend.  I'd been invited by some friends due to my company's sponsorship of a national group that promotes STEM careers for black young people.  I'm white, but frankly, it was irrelevant to my perception of the evening.  In all, it was a wonderful night, with friends promoting something we all knew is worthwhile and noble: encouraging achievement and honoring real accomplishments.

An unexpected part of the evening came just after dinner.  A choir from a local HBC (Historically Black College) began a song I'd never heard and knew nothing about: "Lift Every Voice and Sing," or more euphemistically, "The Black National Anthem."

It was beautifully performed, and many people in the audience sang along.  A little research after we got home showed that the lyrics were written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson and were put to music by his brother only a few decades after slavery was outlawed. 

The ceremonies that night included the Pledge of Allegiance and honors for our local city council; the nearby military installation; and the evening's sponsoring corporations, most of whom were defense contractors large and small.

Fast-forward a few years.  Today, post-Ferguson, post-Trayvon Martin, post-Freddie Gray, America is not a place to be sung about anymore.  Rather, purportedly, we are a nation of white supremacy, racial suppression, and other similar pathologies.  America has been transformed into a place where black people are victims first and fellow authors in writing the long and noble story of the country second. 

Today prominent American sports figures, the vast majority of whom earn more in one six-month season than most of their fans will earn in a lifetime, have decided to signal their virtue by kneeling in front of the nation defiantly.  I have to wonder what black Americans were hoping for when the Black National Anthem was first performed.  Could it have ever included the hope that talented black men would be universally honored for their skills, compensated to the pinnacle of financial success, and celebrated the world over as heroes and role models?

Perhaps it's time to sing the Black National Anthem.  Perhaps it's time to hear what men and women recently emerged from slavery were really aspiring to achieve.  Perhaps it's time for some wealthy sports figures to read the last three lines of an American anthem everyone can agree with.

May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land

Thomas Lifson adds:

Perhaps President Trump could suggest to his pal Robert Kraft that it would be a nice gesture for his team to host a performance of "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" before games, in addition to the National Anthem.  It is outreach to the faith community if you read the poem by James Weldon Johnson (see below).  Trump could make the invaluable point that honoring each other must be the basis of going forward together, not dishonoring the nation.  And he could even allude to the noble origins of the song.  According to PBS:

Created by James Weldon Johnson, it was performed for the first time by 500 school children in celebration of President Lincoln's Birthday on February 12, 1900 in Jacksonville, FL. The poem was set to music by Johnson's brother, John Rosamond Johnson, and soon adopted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as its official song. Today "Lift Every Voice and Sing" is one of the most cherished songs of the African American Civil Rights Movement and is often referred to as 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 list'ning 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 chast'ning 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 hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast 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.

The implicit contrast to the current-day far-left NAACP is startling.