When Colin Kaepernick went down on his knees while playing the national anthem to draw attention to social and other injustices that black and brown people in America regularly face, the National Football League, President Donald Trump and others took the action of the quarterback falsely linked as a protest against the U.S. flag and the nation's military.
Following the police murder of George Floyd, protests and demonstrations have awakened America and most of the world to the plight of African Americans, longstanding injustice, inequality and general misunderstanding.
The NFL remains at the forefront of the new understanding, and now they have adopted that knowledge, and in an unprecedented decision the league announced that it would play Lift Every Voice and Sing – the black national anthem – before every opening game of the year.
The song will be performed before "The Star-Spangled Banner," the NFL said. The season opener of the league is planned for September 10th. The Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans.
“The league that takes the opportunity to play“ Raise and Sing Every Voice ”(the black national anthem) is cute. It's a great way to honor those who started this movement years ago, ”tweeted Jacksonville Jaguars recipient Chris Conley.
“For those unfamiliar with it, this song aims to remind us of our past as a country and strive to get better. It speaks to all of us, not just blacks, even though it became a rallying cry for blacks in the Jim Crow era. It's a beautiful message that came out of pain, ”added Conley.
“For those who say the song is mocking, I ask which part? Much like America the Beautiful is played in honor, this song is the same. It is not for "just black people", but for those who acknowledge the past and push for a better future. "
As noted in Sports Illustrated, Lift Every Voice and Sing has a long history since it was first introduced as a poem in 1899. According to the NAACP, the lyrics were written by writer and NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson (a native of Jacksonville). It was eventually adopted for music by his brother, John Rosamond Johnson. Years later, it was adopted by the NAACP as the organization's official song.
According to the NAACP, the song was first performed in Jacksonville at a school where James Weldon Johnson was the principal. Lift Every Voice and Sing was performed publicly by 500 school children at Stanton School during a celebration for Abraham Lincoln's birthday on February 12, 1900.
The NFL recently confirmed that the way they handled Kaepernick, who was largely blackened out of the game, was wrong. Commissioner Roger Goodell said he would now encourage teams to sign the former Super Bowl quarterback.
Because Goodell reversed course and said he would allow himself to kneel, the league has been heavily criticized by President Donald Trump who is now calling for a boycott of the NFL.
Senator Ted Cruz called the decision to play the Black National Anthem “asinine,” which further exacerbated the racial tensions that have simmered since Floyd's murder.