February 12th marks the 120th anniversary of the first public performance, by 500 Black school children at the Stanton School in Jacksonville, Florida, of the anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The school principal James Weldon Johnson wrote the words and his brother, Rosamond, set them to music. Later, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People adopted the song as the Black National Anthem. In 1900, this hymn subtly railed against racism, Jim Crow laws, and the large number of lynchings accompanying the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and the turn of the century. Rev. Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins served many years in parish ministry and is currently Mayor of Collegeville, Pennsylvania, Co-Executive Director of the New Baptist Covenant, and Executive Director Emeritus of the American Baptist Home Mission Societies. He will reflect on how this hymn of resistance still empowers resiliency in personal and political contexts.
A traditional ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGaEV_ir3KQ) and a contemporary http://www.danieletruocchio.com/video/lift-every-voice-and-sing-we-are-the-future-big-band/ YouTube rendition of the hymn is available online for viewing.