Photo credits: Monica Schipper for Getty Images
The Howard University Choir is scheduled to provide a virtual performance of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing,’ the Black National Anthem, as a part of opening ceremonies Sunday for the Washington Football team’s home opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“This marks the first appearance by the Howard University Choir with the Washington Football Team, however, the choir has a long and prestigious history as an ambassador for the University and representative for the nation,” Director Eric Poole, said in a press release. He will serve as the conductor of the performance.
The move comes at a time of racial reckoning in the NFL as the league has flipped its stance over Black Lives Matter protests. Initially league commissioner Roger Goodell had banned players from kneeling during the regular national anthem, however in the wake of George Floyd’s (and Black people’s) death by police, the league has, on the surface, embarrassed the movement.
The song was initially composed as a poem in 1899 by novelist, poet, and civil rights leader James Weldon Johnson when he was principal of a Black high school in the segregated city of Jacksonville, Fla., according to the Library of Congress, writes The Washington Post.
His brother John Rosamond Johnson, who had trained in musical conservatories in London and Boston, wrote the music. The Howard University Choir has performed for U.S. presidents, heads of state, religious leaders, and international festivals in Rome, Paris, and Valencia, the release notes.
The choir has also performed at services marking the passing of Justice Thurgood Marshall, Secretary Ron Brown, Congressman Elijah Cummings, and the passing of other civil rights leaders.
Source: The BET Network, P. Meara via BET.com