“Lift Every Voice & Sing” would not replace the national anthem — the “Star Spangled Banner” — however.
Rep. Jim Clyburn is introducing a resolution to make “Lift Every Voice & Sing” the official national hymn.
“It would say to people, ‘You aren’t singing a separate national anthem, you are singing the country’s national hymn,'” Clyburn said. “The gesture itself would be an act of healing. Everybody can identify with that song.”
“Lift Every Voice & Sing” would not replace the national anthem — the “Star Spangled Banner” — however. Clyburn said he had wanted to introduce the resolution for decades, saying: “Ever since I’ve been in the Congress, I’ve been trying to come up with enough nerve to introduce a national hymn. I hope I can survive and see it passed.”
“Lift Every Voice & Sing” was first written as a poem in 1899 by James Weldon Johnson, a NAACP leader. His brother, John Rosamond Johnson, later put the poem to music. According to the NAACP, it was first performed in public by school children in 1900 at a birthday celebration honoring former President Abraham Lincoln.
Clyburn’s resolution has received some criticism, with people seeing it more as a symbolic gesture that won’t actually help Black people.
“It’s symbolically notable for Black people, but in the larger scheme of things this isn’t going to put food on people’s table, it’s not going to increase people’s pay,” Michael K. Fauntroy, a political scientist at Howard University, told USA Today.
Currently, the United States does not have a national hymn. As USA Today noted, there have been bills before that tried to designate “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful” as a national hymn, but none of them passed into law.