Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Um, about that anthem

Yesterday Armstrong Williams, co-owner of The Baltimore Sun, deplored the singing of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" at the Super Bowl: "It is an anthem created for one race, and one race only. Playing it at the Super Bowl epitomizes attempts to divide the nation at its core by race."

By contrast, he says, the "Star-Spangled Banner" "is not a white national anthem. It’s not a Black national anthem. It’s not a national anthem for any race. It is a national anthem for everyone, regardless of race."

Perhaps Mr. Armstrong has not had occasion to read Francis Scott Key's poem in its entirety. The third verse contains these interesting lines: "No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave." They refer to Britain's offer of freedom to any enslaved person agreeing to serve in the British army against the American. 

So you see, as is so often the case in this nation, race keeps cropping up all over the place. Luckily, we only ever sing the first verse. 

Mr. Armstrong might also take a moment to ponder the opening of what is colloquially called the Black national anthem: "Lift every voice and sing, till earth and heaven ring, ring with the harmonies of liberty." It celebrates freedom, a freedom that was not acquired easily. 

It is small-minded for anyone celebrating "the land of the free" to begrudge another celebration of freedom. 


  1. John, What you wrote is the perfect antidote to the twisted, narrow-minded, ill-informed, agenda-driven objections to the singing of "Lift Every Voice and Sing." The reaction from the likes of Armstrong Williams comes as no surprise to me.

  2. Thank you, John. It is deplorable to see the co-owner of a newspaper be unable to read. "Lift *Every* Voice" is right there in the title.

  3. Next perhaps Mr. Armstrong can expound on the decision to remove Maryland My Maryland as the official state song.