*Vanessa Williams has come under fire over her Fourth of July performance of the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” known as the Black National Anthem, during a PBS special.
Williams performed the song on PBS‘ A Capitol Fourth program on Sunday. She told the Associated Press on July 2: “It’s in celebration of the wonderful opportunity that we now have to celebrate Juneteenth. So we are reflective of the times.”
Social media users expressed their fury over the performance, with Lavern Spicer, a Republican candidate for Florida’s 24th Congressional district, tweeting Saturday: “Vanessa honey, a BLACK national anthem is something a Black African Country would have, not a country like America that exists for everyone.”
— Excessively Black (@_MyDMsBroke) July 5, 2021
Per Newsweek, conservative writer/editor Carmine Sabia tweeted: “This is ridiculous. There is no black America. There is no ‘Black National Anthem’ as there is not a black nation. There is one nation under God. Everything this woke culture does is something to divide us. I will not be watching as you create racism.”
Dr. Darrell Scott commented: “First there was a problem with ‘Juneteenth.’ Now there’s a problem with Vanessa Williams singing ‘Lift Every Voice,’ on Independence Day because it’s nicknamed the ‘Black National Anthem.’ Seems like the ‘Right’ is the only side that consistently has a problem with ‘Black’ stuff.”
Sabia responded to Dr. Scott’s tweet, writing: “My issue is sing it on Juneteenth. This, singing two National Anthems, I think is another way to divide us. two Americas, two anthems, more separation and that does not bring unity. By definition it cannot.”
Per MadameNoire, in the replies to The Hill’s tweet sharing the news of Williams’ performance, people commented on the history of “Lift Every Voice And Sing.” A few of the replies read:
“Dear Racists, ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ was published in 1905, 116 yrs ago. Some of us choose not to sing a National Anthem whose 3rd stanza boasts about killing our ancestors: ‘No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.’”
“‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ has been named the ‘Black National Anthem’ and an anthem of our experiences/culture for 100+ years. It’s been sung for generations as our anthem. These comments attest to the extend of how invisible we are treated in this country.”
and “Often referred to as ‘The Black National Anthem,’ ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ was a hymn written as a poem by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson in 1900 (a mere 35 years after the end of slavery) His brother, John Rosamond Johnson, composed the music for the lyrics.”
View Vanessa’s performance via the Twitter clip above.