The NFL’s decision to include the performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” often referred to as the “Black National Anthem,” at the opening of Super Bowl LVII has sparked severe online controversy. Here’s the full story.
The Black Anthem
As the nation watched, Sheryl Lee Ralph, star of the comedy series ‘Abbott Elementary,’ performed the Black national anthem before Super Bowl LVII instead of the American National anthem.
Refers to the Hopes and Struggles of Black Americans
First penned as a poem by James Weldon Johnson in 1900, the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing” encapsulated the hopes and struggles of Black Americans at the turn of the 20th century.
A Powerful Expression
In 1917, the NAACP adopted the song as a powerful expression of African-American identity and resilience.
However, its performance at the Super Bowl is relatively recent.
It Began in the 2020 NFL Season
It began in the 2020 NFL season, following nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s deaths at the hands of the police.
NFL Introduced the Song
In response, the NFL introduced “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as part of its pre-game ceremonies.
Sparked a Divisive Conversation
However, the decision to incorporate “Lift Every Voice and Sing” instead of the national anthem has sparked a divisive conversation.
America Has Only One National Anthem
Some politicians, like Colorado Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert, have expressed concerns that this perpetuates division. Boebert tweeted, “America only has ONE NATIONAL ANTHEM.”
Users Shared Their Thoughts
Several Twitter users shared their thoughts on the incident.
It’s Not Virtuous to Play a Black National Anthem
One Twitter user wrote, “So they are still pretending the singing of “lift every voice and sing” isn’t a #racist replacement for the actual National Anthem. I don’t care if they don’t play the National Anthem before the game. But don’t act like it’s virtuous to play the Black National Anthem.”
The Huge Divide
Another user added, “The huge divide that exists in the country was on perfect display during the performance of Lift Every Voice and Sing. The looks on the people in the crowd said it all.”
It Shouldn’t Replace It
A third user commented, “I don’t mind if the choir sings that AFTER the National Anthem, but it certainly shouldn’t replace it.”
Another Nail in the NFL Coffin
A fourth user added, “Just another nail in the NFL coffin. The NFL wanted to reaffirm its alignment with BLM, and thought that this was the way to do it. A ridiculous decision that [annoyed] a lot of fans of both colors off. There is one National Anthem and that isn’t it.”
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