September 20, 2010
Lift Every Voice and Sing, Defined
Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing is an exuberant gospel song that was written by the famous black poet and civil right leader, James Weldon Johnson and his brother Rosamond Johnson. “James W. Johnson was not only a notable poet, but he later went on to become one of the founders of the National Association for Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP” (Los Angeles Public Library). Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing is often referred to as the “Negro National Anthem” was written was performed in 1900 for President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday by children in Florida. Although the song was performed for Lincoln, I could not help but to think of Dr. Martin Luther King and the marches, protests, and speeches he made about overcoming racism, prejudice, and discrimination. The song is very powerful and moving due to the emotive use of words and the unfortunate situation that Johnson is making reference to. One can say that “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” has many different themes, but the chief theme of this poem is the faith and hope that African Americans possess. In addition to faith and hope, the poem also has two other central themes, which are remembering the past and trusting in religion.
Slavery was a way of life for African Americans for more than 300 years and since the beginning of slavery, blacks have always had to struggle and face many different forms of adversity. With 300 years of defeat, disrespect, and humility under one’s belt, the only thing a person really has left is hope. “Hope is defined as a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one's life. It is not considered as a physical emotion but as a spiritual grace. Hope is distinct from positive thinking” (The American Heritage Dictionary). Even with stupendous circumstances in opposition to us, our race as a whole never forfeited in the fight for a better day. That, indeed, is...