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Importance of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’

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COMPILED BY CATRINA FRANCIS
Gold Standard Senior Staff Writer
catrina.s.francis2.civ@mail.mil
When the Fort Knox community attends a post observance for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or during Black History Month “Lift Every Voice and Sing” is often sung by a soloist or as a collective group.
Many in the crowd might question the importance or significance of this song. And some may even ask why this particular song?
“Lift Every Voice and Sing” was first written as a poem, according to www.pbs.org. It was written by James Weldon Johnson, an African-American author, educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter and civil rights activist. He’s also remembered for his leadership within the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People from 1917 to 1930.
The poem was performed on Feb. 12, 1900 on President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday during a visit by Booker T. Washington, a political adviser, writer and founder of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now known as Tuskegee University), at the 500 student segregated Edwin M. Stanton School in Jacksonville , Fla., where Johnson was the principal.
The poem was set to music by Johnson’s brother, John Rosamond Johnson, and soon adopted by the NAACP as its official song. Today “Lift Every Voice and Sing” is one of the most cherished songs of the African-American Civil Rights Movement and is often referred to as the Black National Anthem, according to www.pbs.org.