Black Poetry: Lift Every Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson

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Technically this is a song. And it’s a far better anthem than the star spangled banner. I don’t look at the star spangled banner as a quality anthem. It focuses too much on fighting and war and violence. Who wants to celebrate that? No wonder our military budget is bursting at its seams while everything else gets jack.

The Black National Anthem

Lift Every Voice and Sing
The Black National Anthem (1900)
https://www.blackpast.org/black-past-features/black-national-anthem/

Words: James Weldon Johnson
Music: John Rosamond 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 faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory 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 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 hast 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.

Lift Every Voice And Sing · Melinda Doolittle

Lift Every Voice: The Historic Songs Of James Weldon Johnson


It’s important to realize an anthem is supposed to bring all the people of a nation together. How can you listen to Star Spangled Banner and say it brings everyone together? It even includes “slave” within its lyrics.

But I don’t look upon Fourth of July too kindly either. It doesn’t celebrate my freedom. It doesn’t celebrate the bulk of the country’s freedoms. I’m not a rich white male who has land. Why should I celebrate some rich white men claiming superiority over other rich white men?

“All men are created equal.” Why is it some of those who signed that into law had slaves? Why is it our first couple presidents owned slaves? A couple. Ha. I’m treating it lightly. Twelve presidents. Eight had slaves during their term as president.

Am I supposed to be happy about that? Am I supposed to tell the world my country is great when it’s nothing but a lie we pretend before company?

I want the whole truth. I want the entire world- every person- to know how bad the USA is. How bad it has always been. For anyone besides a rich white male, the history here is filled with blood shed and pain.

“O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” is bullshit. It’s a lie. One we continue. Don’t believe it.

We are not the land of the free and home of the brave. We are the villains that gave Hitler everything he needed to know. He studied our history to become the dictator everyone knows about.

Tell the truth. George Washington was evil. He owned people. He treated them no better than his dogs or horses. And the country acts like he is a hero who saved us.

Saved who? Did he really do anything to the common person? Did it really matter that much to the average citizen what taxes were or how the British were doing things?

It mattered to whites. It mattered to rich white males the most.

If you want to celebrate a holiday that at least supports more than half our population check into Juneteenth. Defeating slavery at least in some form is something to celebrate.

This song, Lift Every Voice and Sing, can be everyone’s. Don’t think of this as just for black Americans. Think about how you feel reading it. Does it suit you? Does it suit everyone fighting right now? This was made to include everyone.

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 faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory won.

We will keep up this fight until we have reached true liberty. Victory will be won.


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