Now that the patriot police have turned what was a peaceful protest about police brutality and social injustice into a flag-waving, jingoistic shame fest, the NFL can make amends with the black players it has insulted with its new no-kneel policy by singing a different tune.
For just one week of the league’s 17-week season, the NFL should bench “The Star Spangled Banner,” and replace it with — wait for it — “The Negro National Anthem.”
“Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,”‘ as the anthem is officially known, is every bit as patriotic as the song that kicks off every major professional sporting event in America.
Its words inspire hope, and pay reverent respect to the battles fought to achieve our freedoms.
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.
A bit of history: “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” was written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson as part of a celebration of President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12, 1900 at a segregated school in Jacksonville, Florida.
The poem was set to music in 1905 by Johnson’s brother John.
In 1919, the NAACP dubbed it “The Negro National Anthem” in recognition of “its power in voicing the cry for liberation and affirmation for African-American people.”
More history: Francis Scott Key, who wrote “The Star Spangled Banner” in 1813, fought in court to help slaves.
But he also opposed abolition, owned slaves and once said blacks were “a distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community.”
Some say the anthem’s third stanza contains racist lyrics.
Even with all that, I’m not trying to question the merits of “The Star Spangled Banner.” I’m only suggesting the NFL replace it for just one week.
And the honor of singing “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” should not be reserved exclusively for black performers. Everybody should get in on the act, from Blake Shelton to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Not convinced yet? Here are some more lyrics:
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.