When the NFL returns to action in Week 1, each game will feature a major change. The league is reportedly planning to play "Lift Ev'ry Voice And Sing," which is commonly known as the Black national anthem. The song, which will play prior to the "Star-Spangled Banner," is one of many measures the league will reportedly incorporate to recognize victims of police brutality.
James Weldon Johnson originally wrote the song as a poem. His brother, John Rosamond Johnson, later set the words to music. It became the official song of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Interestingly enough, "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" was first performed by 500 school children on Feb. 12, 1900. They did so in celebration of President Abraham Lincoln's birthday.
"The league taking the opportunity to play 'Lift every voice and sing' (the black national anthem) is sweet. It's a great way to honor those who started this movement year and years ago," said Chris Conley, a wide receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars. "For those who aren't familiar with it, this song seeks to remind us of our past as a country and to strive to be better. It speaks to all of us not just black people even tho it became a rallying cry for blacks in the Jim Crow era. It is a beautiful message birthed from pain."
There were several prominent figures that expressed excitement about the league planning to play the Black national anthem prior to each Week 1 one. This was not a universal opinion, however, as some critics said that this was a bad choice. Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry asked for someone to explain to him how this solves anything.
Another example came from the Hodgetwins, Keith and Kevin Hodge. The Black comedians recently uploaded a video to their YouTube channel calling out the NFL for this plan. They called the title of Black national anthem "divisive" and said that the "Star-Spangled Banner" is for everyone and is supposed to be unifying. The Hodgetwins said that the NFL is only planning the Week 1 display due to recognizing that this is a "horrible idea."
"If you go look up the history of this Black national anthem, it was never meant to be called the Black national anthem," the Hodgetwins said. "This song was actually written to celebrate Abraham Lincoln's birthday. He was president. He freed the slaves you know. He was Republican. That statue y'all defaced, that y'all tried to rip down. That dude."