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“The Star-Spangled Banner,” officially became the national anthem of the United States of America in 1931. Before then, the anthem was one of America’s popular patriotic songs for more than a hundred years.
Who Wrote The Star-Spangled Banner?
The anthem has its humble beginnings on Sunday, September 14, 1814, when Francis Scott Key watched a British Naval Force bombing U.S. soldiers during the war of 1812. While bombs were dropping the soldiers raised the American flag over Fort McHenry in Baltimore Maryland.
Key was present at Fort McHenry assisting to negotiate the release of American prisoners of war that had been captured. The initial name of the anthem was called “Defence of Fort McHenry.”
War of 1812
In this war of 1812, the United States scored some early victories because of the British being distracted by their ongoing war with France. But in April 1814 after Napoleon’s loss at the Battle of Waterloo, the British were able to give their full attention to their war with North America.
In that same years, the British troops invaded Washington D.C. and set the White House, the Capitol, and other government buildings on fire. That was the first time the Capitol was invaded. January 6, 2021, was the second time.
Anthem of The 13 Colonies
This anthem was created and adopted as a national anthem by men and women of the 13 colonies that broke away from Britain and came to this new land looking for a new beginning. The anthem also relates to their plight and war with Britain. No other ethnic group in America can relate to this plight.
On another note, U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, the House majority whip wants to introduce a measure that would make “Lift Every Voice and Sing” the national hymn and place it alongside the country’s anthem.
To make it a national hymn, I think, would be an act of bringing the country together. It would say to people, ‘You aren’t singing a separate national anthem, you are singing the country’s national hymn. The gesture itself would be an act of healing. Everybody can identify with that song.
National Hymn Motivation
Clyborn’s drive for this measure comes at a time where social unrest, protesting of the police killing of unarmed black men and women, and the havoc impacted by the coronavirus on black communities. His push also comes on the heels of President Donald Trump’s supporter’s deadly attack on the U.S Capitol last Wednesday. A CapitolPolice officer and four other people lost their lives during this attack.
There are individuals that believe that this legislation is more about symbolism and will not address the systemic problems that are plaguing communities of color. Michael Fauntroy, a political scientist at Howard University in Washington said:
It’s symbolically notable for Black people, but in the larger scheme of things, this isn’t going to put food on people’s table, it’s not going to increase people’s pay.
History of Black National Anthem
“Lift Every Voice and Sing” was written by James Weldon Johnson as a poem in 1899. His brother John Rosamond Johnson put the lyrics to music. The first public performance was by school children in 1900 celebrating the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln.
Adopting the song as a national hymn is one way to recognize what Black people have gone through. The NFL last year stated that it would play “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” before week 1 games.
National Hymn Change or Bandaid
It is clear that adopting “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as a national hymn would give the effect of a nation recognizing its tainted past when it comes to Black people, but what about our Hispanic Americans? Will the Mexican National Anthem “Himno Nacional Mexicano” be adopted as a national hymn as well?
Maybe a new all-inclusive anthem should be written that speaks to the plight of the 16 colonies, the plight of Black men and women yesterday and today, the plight of Hispanic men and women, Asian men and women, and the plight of every ethnic group that resides in America.
Will the superior mindset of the “Founding Fathers” descendants be able to accept this type of equal claim of a country they claim to be the original developers of? Or maybe they will just agree to adopt a hymn here and a hymn there but retaining that White superiority mindset.
If the Black National Anthem is adopted as a national hymn, be prepared to adopt all the other ethnic group’s national songs, or create something new. Then the creation of a new American flag has to become a discussion.
Anthem and Flag Change?
The American anthem and the American flag has too much patriotic and sentimental value to the 13 colonies and their descendants to agree to any type of change or compromise.
Is America ready for such a Change? This reporter thinks not
Opinion by Omari Jahi
USA Today: To help heal racial wounds, Black national anthem would become America’s hymn under proposal, Deborah Barfield Berry
History: The Star-Spangled Banner
U.S. Army: The U.S. National Anthem
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First Inset Image by Joseph Wood Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License
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Fourth Inset Image Courtesy of DonkeyHotey’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License