The National Football League plans to have the song “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” performed live or played via a recording before every Week 1 NFL game. The song is considered by many as the Black national anthem and would precede the traditional performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the official U.S. national anthem.
The report on the plans cited anonymous sources and came from The Undefeated, an ESPN offshoot focused on sports, race and culture. The story indicated the NFL is also mulling other ways to recognize victims of alleged police brutality during the upcoming season.
The plans under consideration include listing the names of violence victims on uniforms through decals affixed to helmets and jerseys, and for the NFL to produce educational programs.
Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing first appeared as a poem written by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson. It was set to music by his brother, John Rosamond Johnson in 1899 and was first dubbed the “Black national anthem” in 1919 by the NAACP. It was viewed as a cry for liberation and affirmation for African American people.
The NFL recently revealed plans to increase its social justice financial commitment to $250 million over a 10-year period. The league initially made a $100 million commitment in the throes of player protests during the 2017-2018 seasons. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said that the NFL did not handle the player protests in those years correctly.