If my Morehouse Brother Timothy Askew is going to question the relevance of any anthem it surely shouldn’t be the black national anthem.
“O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
If any anthem should be questioned about its relevance or its lack of inclusion should be our American National anthem. Frederick Douglass elequoently spoke July 4, 1852 and he asked the audience a very simple but profound question, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” If you have never read this speech you are missing out on one of the most profound pieces of literature that challenges the institution of slavery. Throughout the Speech Mr. Douglass ridicules the hypocritical American ethos of Liberty. One thing among many that I love about Morehouse College is that it taught us to be courageous. So you want me to deny the truth of my history and accept the lies of His Story? History has shown that falsehood surrounds the stanza, “land of the free home of the brave.” Bro. Askew do you truly believe that this statement is inclusive of all Americans? Being that I recieved an African-American studies degree from Morehouse College I will answer that question for you, NO!
But when you read one of the stanza’s from “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” you can’t help but notice the relevance of
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
How is this song divisive? We didn’t ask to be enslaved! We didn’t ask to be labeled inferior! But James Weldon Johnson wrote this poem to remind us that though we’ve been through the storm each sun rise is a new day and we must seize the opportunity to overcome. James Weldon Johnson who was a student of at then Atlanta University decided to write a poem that would be a reminder throughout the ages. Another famous Atlanta University Member W.E.B Dubois discussed how as people of color we live in two Americas. I don’t know what America my brother lives in but we didn’t ask for our struggle, it was placed on us. I don’t curse it but it is the reality! And this song helps me deal with this burden. How can you not be inspired by this?
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land