American Football

Reports: NFL to play 'Black national anthem' in Week 1

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ByReuters
02/07/2020 at 22:51 | Updated 02/07/2020 at 22:53

As part of its pledge to fight racial injustice, the NFL reportedly will play "Lift Every Voice And Sing" ahead of all Week 1 games this fall.

The song is unofficially known as the Black national anthem.

The news was first reported Thursday by ESPN's The Undefeated and later
confirmed by USA Today Sports.

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According to the reports, "Lift Every Voice And Sing" will be heard ahead of
"The Star-Spangled Banner" starting with the first game of the regular season,
featuring the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs hosting the
Houston Texans on Sept. 10.

The NFL and its players union also are in discussions about putting the names
of victims of police brutality on helmet decals or jersey patches, per The
Undefeated and USA Today.

"Lift Every Voice And Sing" was written as a poem in 1899 by future NAACP
leader James Weldon Johnson, and his brother John Rosamond Johnson set it to
music, according to the NAACP's website. The first public performance was by a
choir of 500 children on Lincoln's Birthday, Feb. 12, 1900, at the segregated
Stanton School in Jacksonville, Fla., where James Weldon Johnson served as the
principal.

Reaction to "The Star-Spangled Banner" ahead of sporting events became a topic
of national debate after then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick
began taking a knee during its playing in 2016 to protest racism and police
brutality.

In the wake of protests prompted by the May 25 death of George Floyd, NFL
commissioner Roger Goodell said in a video, in part, "We, the National
Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people.

"We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to
NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.

"We, the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter. I personally
protest with you and want to be part of the much needed change in this
country."

Days later, the NFL vowed to donate $250 million to social-justice causes over
a 10-year period.

The league said in a statement, "The NFL and our clubs will continue to work
collaboratively with NFL players to support programs to address criminal
justice reform, police reforms, and economic and educational advancement.

"In addition to the financial commitment, we will continue to leverage the NFL
Network and all of our media properties to place an increased emphasis on
raising awareness and promoting education of social justice issues to our fans
and help foster unity."

--Field Level Media

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