Efforts to make “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” a national hymn
DELMARVA – The song “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” is being introduced to congress and according to a professor I spoke with, the song is a civil rights hymn that speaks to the faith and resilience of African Americans. The song is not meant to replace the national anthem but rather to have a place alongside it.
“I think this is another way to also give context about what it means to be an American,” says Mike Brickner, executive director of the ACLU of Delaware.
A bill set to be introduced in Congress would officially make the black national anthem the first national hymn in U.S. History. “It’s time to stand, it’s time to stand upon the principles which this country was founded for all of us and claim that,” says Dr. James King, a Salisbury University English professor who also teaches African American studies.
Many civil right activists say this proposal would be a way to remember the good and painful parts of American history, but also honor the history of black Americans.
Bricker adds, “we’re honoring the past that brought the star spangled banner, and history there but we’re bringing a different historical angle so that all Americans or more Americans can feel included in that history.”
Dr. King an English professor form Salisbury University explained the history and importance behind the song. He states, some may be against this measure because they feel it speaks exclusively to African Americans. However, he would caution people to understand the lyrics of the song could be applied to all groups of people, not just people of color.
“Any working family any group of people trying to struggle to live in this world could relate to and would want to share it with their children, and what’s more precious than that,” says Dr. King.
Talbot County’s NAACP president, Richard Potter also weighed in by saying, he just wants liberty for all and for congress to realize we do have a problem here in our society when it comes to treatment of black and brown people.
“I would hope that this would steer up conversation so that we can have the difficult conversation,” says Potter. “It’s a great message of hope and inspiration so I think it’s a great step in the right direction.”
Dr. King also says, as an educator he believes that if this bill does not make it past congress, it should be taught in schools as part of their routine. He quotes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by saying, “give it to the children, let the children lead us.”
Mike Brickner with the Delaware ACLU also adds, this proposal could add to the conversation about reforming our education system and as well as our justice system. The national hymn will be introduced to congress this year by Representative James Clyburn from South Carolina.