Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

The NFL's Decision to Play the 'Black National Anthem' Before Games is its Dumbest Decision Yet

The NFL has announced that it will play the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing, before every game.
The NFL has announced that it will play the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing, before every game.
Image: Kevin C. Cox (Getty Images)

Justice. Equality. Fairness. Accountability. Anti-Racism. Reparations. Colin Kaepernick’s employment.

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These are the things Black America has been asking for…forever. Well, other than Kaepernick’s job status. We’ve only been asking for his blackballing to end since it started over three years ago.

But instead of addressing issues that it could easily fix; the NFL has decided that the best way to stand against injustice is to….play a song.

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According to reports, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is the Black National Anthem, will be played before every game during Week 1 of the upcoming season before “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The NFL actually thinks that the best way to honor victims of systemic racism is to play Black America’s most sacred song before it plays a national anthem that was written by a slave owner that’s full of racist lyrics.

Things like this are why Roger Goodell and Drew Brees’ apologies were a joke. Things like this are also why Jay-Z’s deal with the league was nothing but a selfish decision for personal gain. Because if Jay-Z was really behind the scenes “playing chess, not checkers,” he wouldn’t have let this happen. He’s being used. He’s just a pawn.

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The league is also planning to honor victims of police brutality through helmet decals, jerseys, and PSAs that will be aired during Week 1. Yet the man who started this entire conversation within the NFL will be at home watching, as he’s still not on a roster.

In this moment of “awakening” and “convenient consciousness,” the NFL is determined to give us things that we don’t want, instead of just doing what we asked for, like doing something about the fact that there are only three Black head coaches and two Black general managers in a league that’s over 70 percent Black and that’s never had a Black majority owner.

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And if giving Kaepernick his job back is just too much to ask at this point, the league could step in and force Dan Snyder to change the name of his team in Washington, given that the pressure that’s being applied from Nike, FedEx, and Pepsi might make it finally happen sooner than later.

Back in 2009, players didn’t even have to come out for the anthem. But, that was before the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Guard started cutting million-dollar checks in the name of patriotism. In 2015, we learned that the Department of Defense gave teams $6.8 million in taxpayer money to “honor” the military at games and NFL events.

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These are the ways of the NFL, as they’re about to hijack the Black National Anthem in the same way that the Players Coalition hijacked Kaepernick’s movement and Corporate America “Columbus’d” Juneteenth last month.

Below you will find all the lyrics to “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which was written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson and set to music by his brother, J. Rosamond Johnson, in 1899. Almost every Black American can sing the first verse. Some know the second. And even fewer know all three stanzas.

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And since America’s most popular sports league has decided that the singing of this song before some football games will act as Wite-Out to cover this country’s original sin, racism, I guess it’s time that the rest of you start learning the words since the NFL thinks that lyrics are more powerful than legislation.

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Have at it.

Lift ev’ry voice and sing

‘Til earth and heaven ring,

Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;

Let our rejoicing rise

High as the list’ning 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 ‘til 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,

‘Til 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.

Saginaw Native. Morehouse Man. Syracuse (Newhouse) Alum. 2019 NABJ Award Winner. 2016 PABJ Journalist of the Year. I only eat my wings lemon-peppered. And I like brown liquor & brown women.

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