Some conservatives were outraged after the legendary Vanessa Williams sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Black national anthem, while hosting PBS’s 41st annual A Capitol Fourth celebration on July 4. Well, they’re about to pop a blood vessel: “Lift Every Voice and Sing” will reportedly be performed at all NFL pregame ceremonies, starting with the September 9 season opener.
According to Front Office Sports, performing the Black National anthem is part of the NFL’s social justice messaging initiative. However, the outlet also reports the NFL declined to comment.
“Lift Every Voice and Sing” was originally written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson in 1900, and his brother, John Rosamond Johnson, later composed music to accompany the lyrics. The song became a critical part of history and the NAACP used it as a rallying call during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s.
Aug. 14 is the five-year anniversary of Colin Kaepernick protesting “The Star Spangled Banner” due to police brutality. His final game in the NFL was January 1, 2017. Many have said he was banned from the league due to his peaceful protest.
In June of 2020, Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL officially apologized for silencing peaceful protest during the national anthem prior to games over the past few years, admitting "we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest."