Story at a glance

  • The NFL has previously shot down players’ attempts to use their platform to make political statements.
  • Now, the league is attempting to make amends and considering a number of outreach measures.
  • ESPN reports that the song "Lift Ev'ry Voice And Sing” will be performed before games next season.

For the first week of the National Football League’s upcoming season, the song known as the Black national anthem, "Lift Ev'ry Voice And Sing," will be performed live or played before the “Star-Spangled Banner”, according to ESPN’s The Undefeated, which cited an unnamed source. 

The move is part of an increased outreach effort towards Black Americans by the league in the wake of George Floyd’s death. The Undefeated reported the league is also considering listing the names of victims on uniforms through decals on helmets or patches on jerseys, producing educational programs about victims and other measures to recognize victims of police brutality. 


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The NFL has a complicated relationship with the Black community, especially after pushing out quarterback Colin Kaepernick for his kneeling protest against police brutality during games. In an interview with ESPN, commissioner Roger Goodell said that the league should have "listened to our players earlier" and stated his support for a team signing Kaepernick. Still, some, including NBA star LeBron James said the NFL still owed Kaepernick an official apology. 

"Lift Ev'ry Voice And Sing" was written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson and set to music by his brother J. Rosamond Johnson. Dubbed "the [Black] national hymn" by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. And next fall, it may be played before the opening game of the 2020 NFL season on September 10. 


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Published on Jul 02, 2020