Friday, January 13, 2006

The "Black National Anthem" ???

As Martin Luther King Day approaches, I have been hearing more and more about the song "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" by James Weldon Johnson.....aka the "Black National Anthem." What nation are they these black people from? We are all citizens of the United States and should all stand together for the "Star Spangled Banner." As the Olympics approach we will see Americans of every ethnicity proudly wearing gold medals, with their hand over their heart and crying while watching our flag raised. We have no "Korean American National Anthem", "Italian American National Anthem," or "German American National Anthem"....why a black one? We are not in segregated times anymore, and the majority of Americans alive today do not remember those horrible times so many years ago.

I guess my beef is calling it the "Black National Anthem." I understand its purpose during the years when blacks were not given the same rights as other Americans, but the Civil Rights Act remedied that. I understand there will always be racists out there, but no need to add fuel to the fire. I think "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" is a beautiful name.

If you'd like to see the lyrics, click here


At 2:55 PM , Blogger pappy said...

Darn it Tory, being Dutch and seeing how I was born in Pennsylvania I was really hoping to get the Beer Barrel Polka for us Dutch. Played of course on an accordian.

At 7:01 PM , Blogger beakerkin said...

There has been a long battle between the seperatists like WEB Dubois and the intergrationists like Dr King. A black National anthem is not part of the message of King.

At 1:08 AM , Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

01 14 06

Hey TT:
You know my take is different because I am Black. I have no issue at all singing that song. It has been around since the early 1900's and was a song that inspired hope, especially in the Black community. When Blacks could not worship in the same church as Whites, we formed our own with our own cultural traditions.

Just as Jews have a heritage, but can be American, Blacks do too. And it is a hodge podge of many cultures, but mostly West African. Now, if Mr. James Weldon Johnson wrote the anthem in this day and age, I could understand your ire. However, look when the song was written and why it was written!

Sometimes I wonder why people can accept that Chinese or Indian or Native American people have different aspects to their culture, yet are American. But when there is a mention of Black something it seems to make people uncomfortable and it is difficult for people to accept that Blacks have culture(s) AND are also American.

And you know, civil rights should have remedied bias, but if bias has been practiced for hundreds of years, how can those attitudes be changed overnight? I grew up in CA and didn't really experience that much overt prejudice-I did, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. When I started college in Atlanta, GA a few years back, I went to the South and saw a lot of segregation and that was fairly recently, so my point is that there is still a Black world that is separate from the White world to this day!

Oh well. I am happy that you posted your HONEST opinion on the issue, and am happy to share mine. Good post. I think I will do a post on this TT. The reason why I like your blog is because you state your honest opinion on issues, despite if I disagree. Only through being honest can bridges be built in our society of greater understanding:)

At 7:07 PM , Blogger Gyrobo said...

A lot of people call America a melding pot. But it's more of a stew. Instead of blending all cultures together, each ingredient keeps part of its own flavor.

That's the way it's always been, and I don't see any problems because violence isn't involved.

At 10:36 PM , Blogger Teacher Tori said...

I have no problem with the song, however, I just don't like it being called "The Black National Anthem", thats all.

At 1:09 AM , Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

01 16 06

TT: I am doing an MLK post and cite your article:) Thanks for sharing your honest opinion.

At 7:10 AM , Blogger stuffle said...

Sometimes I wonder why people can accept that Chinese or Indian or Native American people have different aspects to their culture, yet are American. But when there is a mention of Black something it seems to make people uncomfortable and it is difficult for people to accept that Blacks have culture(s) AND are also American.

No one (outside of the KKK and other racists) has a problem with anyone expressing their cultural herritage, be them African, Germin, Italian, Indian, Native American, whatever. I don't think anyone (at least hanging out hear) has any problem with the song itself.

It is the calling the song a "Black National Anthem", as if blacks and whites are supposed to have different national anthems, that is the problem.

At 12:53 PM , Blogger Eddie said...

Hey, if someone thinks they have their own something or other, I have no problem with it. Let them play make believe, and I will join the millions of other Americans who love the star spangled banner.

At 11:44 AM , Blogger Katy Grimes said...

The only thing that irritates me about labeling the song as "Black" National Anthem IS the label. Why is it njecessary if it is about and for blacks?

The National Anthem is for all Americans, not just the white ones...

At 12:32 PM , Blogger VerseOne said...

I appreciate you asking this question, as well as, those who share your idea. But the title is more to reach African Americans than to appease others.

I mean, think about it alternate titles are given to events, songs and people all the time, but most people don't question them. For example...

Holocaust. Now you ask any person what the word means, and I'm sure it's related to Nazi Germany. Even though there have been several holocaust in the history of the world, including the number of slaves that died as a result of the slavery related events.

"Peculiar Institution". The American History book for slavery.

The name means nothing to those who appreciate the message of the song.

Black nationalism (meaning the love for yourself as black people, and the fight for there equality) is needed in this country so why wouldn't a rallying call be necessary to help us keep our "eyes on the prize", so to speak?

And finally the reason "the majority of Americans alive today do not remember those horrible times so many years ago." is because the history books omitted it.


At 12:49 PM , Blogger VerseOne said...

One more note. Especially "Fetching Jen". The Star Spangled Banner written around 1812, and made the National Anthem in 1931. Slavery was abolished in the 1860's, and Jim Crow ruled the land until 1964. So according to Jim Crow's "seperate but equal," we were considered two nations.

So the Star Spangled Banner was primarily for White america.

Hopefully some understanding was gained from this. If not, God Bless ya'll anyways.

At 1:48 PM , Blogger Teacher Tori said...

What do you mean by "reaching African Americans"?

I am a teacher and after I read what you said I looked at textbooks and there was a lot of information on slavery and black culture period. Maybe not a few decades ago but these kids are being very educated on history.

At 4:11 PM , Blogger VerseOne said...

Maybe in recent textbooks. But I was in primary school 10-15 years ago and our coverage of black history was sparing.

When I say to "reach african americans", I mean just that. In order to gain understanding of your culture or heritage, there is a need for methods to do so. Kwanzaa for example. It is in essence a celebration of our culture and also a ritual by which we can learn more about our origins. Same with Black History Month. They are used to bring awareness.

Just like the AIDS walk, or MS Telethon. Where people affected by these illnesses campaign on their behalf. These songs or rituals bring awareness to those people might want to become more aware. Those who tend to want a greater sense of awareness happen to Black people in this case.

So the song is just like any other song of affirmation, it has it's targeted audience and aims for them. Gospel songs aren't aimed at Muslims, so should the Muslim be mad for gospel music not being all encompassing, or viceversa?

At 3:51 PM , Blogger sandy said...

A lot of good arguments here both pro and con. Hell, even Gyrobo made sense.

Nothing wrong with keeping track of our heritage as long as it's not meant to seperate and divide.

Anyone seen my four leaf clover around?

At 8:45 PM , Blogger beakerkin said...

Hey Verseone

The amount of slaves who died in the eastern slave trade was a mere fraction of those that died in the Western Slave trade. The decendants of those slaves are widely seen in America but invisible in Arabia largely because males were castrated or used as shock troops.

What is this odd placement of the Holocaust in a post that has zero to do with the subject. No other people were slain in an industrial manner except gypsies. The term Holocaust was coined to describe the event. You may now rejoin the NOI spaceship send my best to Mustafa 10X who was named for his girth.

At 9:59 PM , Blogger VerseOne said...

Beakerkin... are u serious? I swear my post mentioned that there were SEVERAL holocaust in the history of the world. My use of the word was to illustrate how words can be used. I didn't try to discount the deaths of any other group of people.

I'm obviously not a NOI member. Disrespect gets you very little in life, and tends to weaken your arguments.

But like I said, God bless you anyways.

At 3:56 AM , Blogger beakerkin said...


The Holocaust was a unique event in the history of mankind. Slavery in no definition is or was comperable to the Holocaust. The subject does not belong in or near any context of a discussion of black history.

The NOI and off the map Afrocentrists like Prof Leonard Jeffries are fond of your attempt to incorrectly place slavery in the context of a Holocaust. The other group known for it avid attempts at this illogic are the far left. This becomes comedic the second one reads the black book of Communism.

My advice stick with Black history in the context of American history.
The Holocaust is not part of a discussion of that subject. Do not gloss over WEB Dubois Communism either.

At 4:47 PM , Blogger Eddie said...

I think slavery was awful. However, one could argue that the consequences of it are still around today, OK. I can also argue that every immigrant group who came to America was discriminated against, in a bad way, when they came over here.

Furthermore, I could argue that the original inhabitants (not really native because there is no such thing as a native north american, just those who migrated first, perhaps a thousand years ago) were brutalized much more than the slaves.

The question then becomes, when do we all become Americans? I know this seems silly and easy for me to say as a white guy, but our Country has a shared history, some good, some bad, and currently has some shared enemies, mostly bad.

When do we just excel in life despite of our obstacles? At what point in US history is slavery forgiven, not forgotten, but forgiven? When do we truly live in a color blind society? I don't know, I have never considered myself anything but American, not European-American, not Slovak-American, or anything else. Where my relatives came from isn't nearly as important as to where I am going, and the Country I have learned to love from having been born here and growing up here.

"Oh say can you see..."

At 8:44 PM , Blogger Teacher Tori said...

very well put Eddie! we all miss your blog!

At 3:49 PM , Blogger Brea said...

How scary our educators are so naiive.

At 11:02 PM , Blogger Teacher Tori said...

care to elaborate brea instead of making a blanket statement like that?

At 6:18 PM , Blogger Carlito said...

You know what the majority of white america's problem is when it comes to issues like this?

They always want a part in things. Like the need to be included, even though blacks and other ethnic groups have been excluded for so many years.

You've given me one example. Example 2: Black Entertainment Television (BET); many people were offended at AfricanAmericans need for their own channel. Arguements like "there isn't a White Ent. TV channel"
Example 3: Parents at my former school protested the creation of Black History course at my school. Using the same "there's no white history class" logic, they attempted to thwart its formation, even though it was optional learning.

The obvious answer in both cases is that TV is primarily geared to white america, on basic and cable tv. And the majority of learned history in school is and has been primarily that dealing with european and american history. Even though slavery and civil rights protest are discussed, it is depth of coverage that it receives.

The Black National Anthem, falls into a similar category. It belongs to those who want to own it, explore it, and learn from it. Mostly Black people.


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