WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — “Lift Every Voice,” also known as the Black national anthem, has taken on a new life the past few years, heard anywhere from church pews to sports stadiums and even Capitol Hill. Now, a group of Democratic lawmakers are calling for the former poem to be named the official national hymn.
The bill was introduced today by U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn from South Carolina. He says the song isn’t only a symbol of Black pride and perseverance but also the resilience of American democracy.
“Consider the words: ‘Sing a song full of faith that the dark past has taught us. Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,'” Clyburn said.
The poem would not replace the national anthem. It was written in 1900 to commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. The lyrics were later set to music.
Leon W. Russell, the chair of the NAACP Board of Directors, also supports the effort. He says making the Black national anthem an official part of American history recognizes the work and sacrifice black people have made to shape America as it is today.
“(The move would) ensure that our nation be ever mindful of that people’s role in the development of our democracy,” Russell said.
The bill appears to have support on both sides of the aisle. U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., says he thinks the move could unite the country.
“I think it could be a noble pursuit,” Johnson said. “Maybe something like this could help educate all of us, all Americans.”