Swing Low, Sweet Patriots

You’ll pardon our sheltered upbringing, but we didn’t know there was a “Black National Anthem,” and apparently it’s not Les McCann singing “Compared to What.”

It’s official name is “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” originally a poem by James Weldon Johnson, and first sung in 1900 on Lincoln’s Birthday by a choir of 500 children at the segregated Jacksonville, Florida, school where Johnson was principal.

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.

Sounds really nice when Aretha does it, but then so does everything.

Johnson’s brother Rosamond wrote the music, and the song was an instant inspirational hit. By 1919, the NAACP had adopted it as its official anthem, and it was revived during the civil-rights movement. In 1990, it was entered into the Congressional Record as “The African American National Hymn.”

Oh, and if you sing it instead of the Star-Spangled Banner before a Denver mayoral speech, you’ll get hate mail and death threats.

Rene Marie talks about death threats since ‘anthem switch’ [News2 Denver]

My mother taught me this. She typed the lyrics to a bunch of songs she thought I should know. This was one of them.

The “sing a song” lines are the most goosebumpy.

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…

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