THE NFL NEEDS TO SING
FOR UNITY, NOT DIVISION
The National Football league is searching desperately for an ideological “sweet spot” where it can regain lost fans while it presents itself as being sensitive to calls for “social justice.” As part of that effort, the song, “Lift Every Voice” — often referred to as the “Black National Anthem” — will be played before the start of week-one games.
“Lift Every Voice” was written as a poem in 1899 by James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), an early leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. His brother, John Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954), set it to music.
According to NAACP’s website, the song was first performed on Lincoln’s Birthday in 1900 “by a choir of 500 schoolchildren at the segregated Stanton School” in Jacksonville, Florida, where James Weldon Johnson was principal. (A poet and author, Johnson later taught at New York University and then at the historically Black Fisk University).
Between the Coronavirus lockdown and ongoing controversy surrounding the kneeling protests, it’s been a tough year for professional sports. One can certainly appreciate that NFL decision makers are feeling a lot of pressure.
But are they opening the door to even more controversy?