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"Lift Every Voice and Sing"

Taking some time on this snowy day during Black History Month and revisiting past DE videos and interviews. Here's one I love of Stephanie Saunders and Lonnie Wilson singing the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing.

Lift Every Voice and Sing was written as a poem by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) and then set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954) in 1899.

It was first performed in public in the Johnsons’ hometown of Jacksonville, Florida as part of a celebration of Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12, 1900 by a choir of 500 schoolchildren at the segregated Stanton School, where James Weldon Johnson was principal.

Here are some other Dear Evanston followers and friends who have sung or recited the stirring words.

Bruce Allen King recites the anthem at the E-FAM picnic, 2018

Patrick Keenan-Devlin, executive director, James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy.

Last September, I received this beautiful video from Baird Dodge, Principal Second Violin at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. When I asked him about his connection to Evanston, he said he didn't really have one, but had read about the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, WI, on Dear Evanston and read the powerful statements Jacob's mother Julia Jackson, his sister Letetra Widman, and his father Jacob Blake had made at a news conference.

He said he wanted DE to post the video in the hopes that during these difficult days people feel supported by it. Read the more about Baird here.

And here's an interview from January 2018 with Bruce King, his father Roy King, his aunt Harriet King, and our friend Lonnie Wilson. We had an incredible, wide-ranging conversation, and Lift Every Voice and Sing was mentioned (it may have been the first time I heard the words), and Stephanie Saunders provides the soundtrack.

The Lyrics

Lift every voice and sing Till earth and heaven ring Ring with the harmonies of Liberty Let our rejoicing rise High as the listening skies Let it resound loud as the rolling sea Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us Facing the rising sun of our new day begun Let us march on till victory is won Stony the road we trod Bitter the chastening rod Felt in the days when hope unborn had died Yet with a steady beat Have not our weary feet 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 Out from the gloomy past Till now we stand at last Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast God of our weary years God of our silent tears Thou who has brought us thus far on the way Thou who has by Thy might Led us into the light Keep us forever in the path, we pray Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee Shadowed beneath Thy hand May we forever stand True to our God True to our native land Our native land


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