Super Bowl LVIII featured performances of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful,” as well as “Lift Every Voice and Sing” – better known as the black national anthem. However, many online commentators slammed the NFL for featuring a performance of the black national anthem, and said it was “pushing the politics of racial division again.”
R&B singer Andra Day performed the black national anthem at Super Bowl 58.
Day previously said her song being the Black Lives Matter anthem was a “huge honor because Black Lives Matter represents standing up to oppression and persecution. Having the group connect with ‘Rise Up’ made me more aware that I need to use my platform to serve the community.”
She also explained why she connects her music to her activism: “I want to tell the truth about the racial terror that’s happened and that’s still happening today in this country. Too often we change the narrative to make things more digestible, but the reality is, if we don’t address injustice honestly and openly, we’ll never heal.”
Day performed at the Democratic National Convention in 2016.
Many notable netizens rejected the black national anthem being sung at the Super Bowl, and deemed it to be divisive.
Mike Loychik – a Republican lawmaker in the Ohio House of Representatives – said, “There’s no such thing as a ‘black national anthem.’ We are all AMERICANS, united by our great and beautiful Star Spangled Banner. The Super Bowl is supposed to bring us together. It’s a disgrace that the NFL decided to push the politics of racial division again.”
Talk show host Megyn Kelly stated, “The so-called Black National Anthem does not belong at the Super Bowl. We already have a National Anthem and it includes EVERYONE.”
Conservative commentator CJ Pearson declared, “Before tonight’s Super Bowl, as a young black man and proud American, let me make myself clear: There is only ONE national anthem. As there is only ONE United States of America. And it’s for EVERYONE – white, black, yellow, and even maroon. The Left’s agenda of division isn’t just needless; it’s exhausting.”
Host Tim Young asked, “Why does the NFL only have the National Anthem and the ‘Black National Anthem?’ What about anthems for Asians, Hispanic people, Jewish people, Islamic people, every Native American tribe, Pacific Islanders, Inuits, and every other race in America? Why not just play every National anthem ever and start pregame 48 hours earlier? After all, you aren’t truly inclusive until you include everyone.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said he boycotted watching the entire Super Bowl as a protest against the singing of the black national anthem.
Gaetz wrote on the X social media platform that he wouldn’t be watching the Super Bowl because the NFL is “desecrating America’s national anthem by playing something called the ‘black national anthem.'”
The song “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was originally written in 1900 by James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson as a prayer hymn.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People recognized the song as the “black national anthem” in 1919.
Last year, Emmy-winning actress and singer Sheryl Lee Ralph sang the black national anthem at Super Bowl 57 – which was deemed as divisive by numerous online commentators.
Gospel duo Mary Mary and Youth Orchestra performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing” during Super Bowl LVI in 2022.
A previously recorded version of the black national anthem sung by Alicia Keys was played at Super Bowl LV in 2021.
In 2020, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was played at every NFL game in the first week of the season.
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