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.
What is the Black national anthem?
The Black national anthem is the term coined for the song “Lift Every Voice And Sing.” It was written in 1899 by James Weldon Johnson initially as a poem celebrating Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and was quickly embraced as a powerful symbol of the mix of struggle and enduring hope for Black people in the U.S.
It has endured as a culturally iconic melody more than a century after it was first performed in 1900, with famous renditions delivered from the likes of Ray Charles and Beyonce.
Black national anthem lyrics
Below are the lyrics to “Lift Every Voice And Sing,” written by James Weldon Johnson:
Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening 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 till 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,
Till 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.