What is the Black National Anthem? Alicia Keys sings ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ for Super Bowl

Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs listen as Alicia Keys performs “Lift Every Voice and Sing” virtually before the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If you’ve been to a Kansas City Chiefs game this year, you’ve probably heard the playing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as the “Black National Anthem,” during pregame ceremonies. 

On Sunday, Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers players stood in unity as a video of Grammy Award-winning artist Alicia Keys singing the anthem played before the big game.

Before this season, many people never heard “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Some have asked why is there a Black National Anthem.

The song was originally penned by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson as a poem. Johnson’s brother, John Rosamond Johnson, set the poem to music for President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday It was first performed in 1900.

The song was later adopted by the NAACP as its official song.

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” celebrates the Black American journey to freedom and their perseverance. 

The NFL said it would work on raising awareness of social justice issues this season. 

Here are the lyrics:

Lift ev’ry voice and sing,
‘Til earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on ’til victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
‘Til now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.

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