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Negro National Anthem

Negro National Anthem

"Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," with words by James Weldon Johnson and music by J. Rosamond Johnson, became known as the "Negro National Anthem" or "Negro National Hymn." James Weldon Johnson wrote this three-stanza hymn for a celebration of Lincoln's birthday at the Colored High School in Jacksonville, Florida. The school choir first performed the song on February 12, 1900. During the next twenty-five years, African Americans began to perform the hymn at churches, schools, and other large gatherings.

James Weldon Johnson did not write the song as an expression of African-American solidarity, but in 1926 he acknowledged that "the song not only epitomizes the history of the race, and its present condition, but voices their hope for the future." Some writers have objected to calling "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" a "national" hymn; however, the song is still performed as the unofficial anthem of African Americans.

See also Johnson, James Weldon


Johnson, James Weldon. Along This Way: The Autobiography of James Weldon Johnson. New York: Viking, 1933.

"Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing." Crisis 32 (September 1926): 234236.

willie strong (1996)

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