New York, NY – The National Football League plans to play a song known as the “Black National Anthem” before its games in the first week of the season.
ESPN reported that the song Lift Every Voice And Sing would be performed live.
According to the NAACP, Lift Every Voice And Sing was written as a poem by NAACP leader James Johnson and set to music in 1899 by his brother John Johnson.
The song was first performed in public in Jacksonville, Florida as a part of a celebration of President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.
The NAACP has adopted Lift Every Voice And Sing as its official song, according to CNN.
The song was performed to to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990, according to CNN. It was also performed at President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. CNN reported that singer Beyonce sang a 90-second version of the song when she was the first black woman to be the headline act in Coachella.
During the NFL games, the song would be played before The Star Spangled Banner.
The NFL opens its season on Sept. 10 in Kansas City with the Kansas City Chiefs playing the Houston Texans.
The playing of Lift Every Voice And Sing marks a new commitment by the league to address the wave of social justice activists in the country after the death of George Floyd.
On June 5, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell put out a video in which he said, “we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier,” according to CBS.
In the statement, Goodell said the NFL would “encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,” according to CBS.
“Without black players, there would be no National Football League and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff,” Goodell said, according to CBS.