| USA Today
“Listening and Singing” ignites hope in the United States
The black national anthem was born more than a century ago, but during national protests in recent weeks, the popular hymn “lift every voice and sing” in the African-American community has rekindled a beacon of hope. (July 3)
Washington – US Representative James Clayburn (DS.C.) hopes that a song about the long-respected faith and resilience of the black community will become a national hymn and help after hundreds of years of racial turmoil The country is united.
The House Majority Whip Clyburn (Clyburn) plans to introduce a measure as early as this week that will make “Lift Every Voice and Sing” known as the black national anthem, the national anthem, and make it the national anthem of the country. The special location next to “Stars and Stripes.”
“I think that making it a national hymn will be an act of uniting the country. It will say to people: “You are not singing the national anthem, but the national hymn,” the highest-ranked black man in Congress American Cliburn said. “The gesture itself is a form of rehabilitation. Everyone can recognize this song. “
This song is an important part of African American culture and history. For decades, it has been sung in school plays, awards ceremonies, graduation ceremonies and church services in black communities. Clyburn said it was time to sing in other communities.
This action was promoted during times of social turmoil, especially during protests against police killings of unarmed blacks and whites and the destructive effects of the new coronavirus on people of color.
After supporters of President Donald Trump launched a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, members of Congress scrambled to secure the location, and the police clamored to protect them. Five people, including the congressional police, died.
Some experts and historians say that the driving force of legislation is more about symbolism, and it is not helpful in solving the systemic problems that plague the color world.
Michael K. Fauntroy, a political scientist at Washington Howard University, said: “For blacks, this is symbolic, but from a larger perspective, it will not bring food to people. , It won’t increase people’s salaries.”, DC
Farntroy said he worried that some people, especially African Americans, would sometimes exaggerate the importance of symbolic victory and use it instead of more structural changes. He said: “I don’t want this to happen here.”
Clyburn said that this effort was far more than symbolic. He said his goal was to increase power as a national hymn. He said: “This is a popular song deeply rooted in the country’s history.”
More: How civil rights leader James Clyburn helped Joe Biden and black Americans win the White House
Song comes from a painful history
NAATCP leader James Weldon Johnson (James Weldon Johnson) first wrote a poem “Raise the Voice and Sing” in 1899, which was later written by his brother John Rosamond Johnson (John Rosamond Johnson). Johnson) devoted himself to music. According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), this was the first public performance by schoolchildren in 1900 to commemorate the birthday of former President Abraham Lincoln.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) later made it an official song.
Clyburn pointed out that its early label was “Black National Anthem.”
He said: “I have always been unhappy about this.” “Whether you are black or white, we should have a national anthem. Therefore, to give due honor and respect to this song, we should name it a national hymn .”
Howard Robinson, an archivist at Alabama State University and a member of the steering committee of the Arizona State University Center for Civil Rights and African American Culture, said the song was written for African Americans during another turbulent period.
Blacks were lynched. Jim Crow’s laws are deeply rooted.
Robinson said: “This song does not romanticize the American past,” he refers to the lyrics, such as “full of teachings about the dark past.”
But Robinson also pointed out his optimism about the lyrics, such as “Hope now brings us hope.”
He said: “This song speaks to people who have been hit by heavy hammers.” “I think this song is another observation of the United States, a more critical observation of the United States, and at the same time optimistic about our present and future. .”
“There is no better time than now”
Experts say that using this song as a national ode to all Americans is a way to acknowledge the plight of African Americans and the systemic racism they still face.
Robinson said: “There is no better time than now.” He pointed out that last summer, “black life is crucial” to protest racial injustice and inequality resonated in the United States and the world.
This song was sung during some of these protests.
The National Football League (NFL) announced last year that it would broadcast “Inspiring Behavior” and “Stars and Stripes” before the first week of the game. Alicia Keys played the song in the video.
Over the years, many celebrities including Beyoncé have performed this song. The late civil rights icon Joseph Lowry (Rev.
Composer, producer, and cultural curator Nolan Williams Jr. said that using it as a national hymn is an important step in standardizing and codifying it as the center of our history.
Williams said: “This really should be part of our country’s recognition and respect for the meaning it represents, not only for African Americans, but for Americans.” “The plight of African Americans is American history. The central part.”
Cliburn must build nerves
Clayburn said that he has been considering this measure for decades. Last month, he asked his employees to make laws. The four-page bill obtained by “USA TODAY” cited the history of the song and called it “the beloved hymn.”
Cliburn said in a private discussion for journalists of color earlier this month: “Since I joined Congress, I have been trying to come up with a national hymn.” “I hope I can survive and see it pass. .”
Since 1973, Congress has introduced six bills to designate songs, including “God Bless America” and “Beautiful America” as national hymns, but according to the US Senate Office of History, none of these bills passed.
The “Stars and Stripes” was officially used as the national anthem in 1931. The national anthem is usually a patriotic song. Hymns are more religious and praise songs.
Williams said that although he appreciates the meaning of the “Stars and Stripes”, he is also aware of the flaws in the song, including scriptures that reflect the deep-rooted racism that plagues the country.
“Perhaps what Clyburn is doing is pushing our country to have another inconvenient conversation on this subject, and this is difficult for us to solve,”
Williams said he was the one who released and directed the voting national anthem “I have the right to vote” last summer.
Clayburn said that his measure was not to get rid of the national anthem. He said that he still remembered the national anthem played on the clarinet a long time ago.
He pointed out that “mention every voice” is also widely known outside the black community. He recalled standing next to former President Bill Clinton a few years ago. Former President Bill Clinton “knows every word of that song… his singing is better than anyone in the room.”
Cliburn said in a letter to his colleagues that making America a hymn would recognize an important part of the American experience and the possibility of unity. Clayburn said he hopes to get “broad” support from both parties in both houses.
Robinson of Alabama State University said he would be surprised if this effort is welcomed by lawmakers and most Americans. He said: “It is a difficult task to get the whole country to accept this (song) to understand our collective history…”
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Robinson said that despite this, the United States is still in a period of reflection, which may generate more support.
He said: “Some people are more willing to accept the past, not from the rose-colored glasses, but through the prism to see the elements of the past as pain and exploitation, but it can also create heroes and resilience.”
If this happens, all Americans may soon sing to the lyrics:
Raise your voice and sing,
Until the earth and heaven sounded,
Live in harmony with freedom;
Let our joy rise
The sky on the list is high,
Let it resound as loud as the sea.
Sing a song full of beliefs taught us by the dark past,
Sing a song full of hope that hopes bring us;
Facing the new sunrise,
Let us keep going until we win.
Paved the way we walked,
Bite the whip
Feeling in the days when unborn hope is gone;
Without our tired feet
Come to the place where our ancestors sighed?
We walked a path and shed tears,
We are here, walking through the blood of the slaughtered,
From the bleak past
Till now we finally stand up
Where our bright stars glow white.
God of our weary years
God of our silent tears,
So far, it is you that has brought us.
You may be given by
Take us into the light
We pray that we will always be on the road.
Lest our feet deviate from where we met you, our God,
Lest our hearts be drunk by the wine of the world, we have forgotten you.
Shrouded in your hands,
May we stand up forever,
Loyal to our god
Be loyal to our motherland.
Follow Deborah Berry on Twitter @dberrygannett